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‘Ali Baba and the forty thieves’: Emirati foreign minister calls Palestinian leadership “useless”, asks why the UAE should assist the authority without reforms

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, said that he had not witnessed any meaningful reform within the Palestinian Authority.

A shouting match broke out between the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates and senior Palestinian officials during a meeting in Riyadh in late April between the United States (US) Secretary of State Antony Blinken and a group of Arab counterparts. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on 29th April. The Palestinian minister Hussein al-Sheikh, the closest deputy to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was present along with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The meeting’s objective was to talk about a coordinated post-war plan for Gaza.

According to the reports, during the meeting, al-Sheikh stated that while the Palestinian Authority is implementing reforms and establishing a new government in response to requests from the United States and Arab nations, it isn’t receiving enough financial and political assistance. As the meeting came to a conclusion, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, pushed back and said he had not witnessed any meaningful reform within the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian leadership was then referred to as “Ali Baba and the forty thieves” by the minister, who also declared that senior PA officials were “useless” and that “replacing them with one another will only lead to the same result.” He even questioned, “Why would the UAE give assistance to the Palestinian Authority without real reforms?”

Responding to this, Al-Sheikh yelled back at the UAE foreign minister and announced that no one would tell the Palestinian Authority how to carry out its reforms.

In an attempt to defuse the heated discussion, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud commented that improvements need time. However, the discussion had already spiralled out of hand, with the Emirati minister storming out of the room in a fit of rage and both sides raging at each other. The foreign minister of Jordan, Ayman al-Safadi, left the meeting and returned a few minutes later with the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, who apologized to Antony Blinken for having to see the internal argument.

“His Highness added that if the Palestinian Authority paid as much attention to its own people as it does to security coordination with Israel the Palestinians will be in much better shape,” An Emirati official confirmed the statements voiced by the UAE’s FM.

The PA and the UAE have had a tumultuous history, especially since Abu Dhabi restored diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020. PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Mohammed bin Zayed, the president of the United Arab Emirates, don’t get along well. However, reports claimed that the UAE is not the only country upset with the PA and Abbas, as most of the other attendees including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar are also growing more impatient with Ramallah.

Many participants at the meeting believed that Abbas was unwilling to implement the kind of major reforms required to turn the PA into an entity that would allow it to take back control of Gaza and move toward a two-state solution. Qatar, which expected Abbas to name a prime minister who would have backing from all segments of Palestinian society, including the Islamist ones, is equally frustrated with Abbas. The emir of Qatar conveyed this message to him when he visited the nation in February. Nevertheless, Abbas turned down the request and chose Mohammed Mustafa, a close confidant with little popular appeal.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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