Israel Policy Forum applauds the historic announcement that Israel and the United Arab Emirates will be normalizing relations. Israel’s broader acceptance in the region is good for Israel and good for American interests in the Middle East, and we hope that other countries will follow suit. We also applaud the announcement that in return for normalized ties, Israel will be suspending its plans to annex part of the West Bank, as envisioned by the Trump initiative. Annexation remains the single biggest threat to Israeli peace with its neighbors and its full acceptance in the region, and we call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to remove annexation as a policy option entirely rather than temporarily suspend its implementation.

While today’s announcement is an achievement to be celebrated, it remains the case that suspending annexation and beginning the process of normalization with the UAE is not the same as achieving regional peace or a permanent status agreement to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Maintaining the status quo is not in Israel’s best long-term interests and remains unjust to Palestinian desires to have their own state. Today’s news reinforces our conviction that a two-state outcome is the best path forward for Israel, the Palestinians, and other states in the region, and we are gratified to see a widespread acknowledgment that annexation is an obstacle to peace rather than the key to unlocking it. Until a viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is found, true peace and acceptance of Israel by all will remain incomplete.

We urge the Israeli government to build upon today’s achievement by working toward a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will allow Israel to normalize relations with other states but most importantly with its most immediate neighbors. Two states is the only path forward to ensuring Israel’s future as a secure, Jewish, and democratic state.