RAMALLAH: The Israeli government’s extremist policies are threatening diplomatic ties with Arab countries amid efforts to normalize relations, political analysts and observers warn.
On Wednesday, the Jordanian Parliament voted in support of a proposal to expel the Israeli ambassador from Amman in protest at comments by Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.
Parliamentary Speaker Ahmed Al-Safadi called on the government to take effective measures over Smotrich’s use of a map that allegedly “includes the borders of the kingdom and the occupied Palestinian territories.”
A veteran Arab diplomat, who declined to be named, told Arab News that the extremist Israeli government will not be accepted, even by countries that have normalized relations with Israel, such as the UAE.
This is especially true “when Israeli ministers state there is nothing called the Palestinian people and that Jordan is part of Israel,” the diplomat added.
“If these Israeli government policies continue, those countries will have stronger reactions that may include the withdrawal of their ambassadors from Tel Aviv.”
On Wednesday, media reports suggested that the UAE is considering reducing its diplomatic representation in Israel over Smotrich’s claim that “there is no such thing as the Palestinian people.”
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs is believed to have told its ambassador to Israel, Mohammed Al-Khaja, to avoid meeting any Israeli official.
On Tuesday, Bahrain also condemned Smotrich’s statements.
The Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Bahrain rejects “incitement rhetoric and practices that contradict moral and human values, and undermine efforts and international peace.”
Israeli government policy also appears to have angered Israel’s closest ally, the US. In a rare move, the Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Michael Herzog, was summoned to the State Department on Tuesday following the passing of legislation that will allow resettlement in areas of the northern West Bank.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman held talks with Herzog, State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said.
The two diplomats also “discussed the importance of all parties refraining from actions or rhetoric that could further inflame tensions leading into Ramadan, Passover and the Easter holidays,” Patel said.
Israeli political analyst Yoni Ben Menachem said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs Smotrich and Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir as partners in the government coalition and has to respond to their demands.
“They will continue to blackmail him,” Ben Menachem said.
“Arab countries and the US must understand the difficult situation of Netanyahu, who is facing political blackmail,” he added.