WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement regarding the announcement that Israel and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to normalize relations.

“The announcement that Israel and the United Arab Emirates will move towards normalizing relations is a positive step and embodies the importance of dialogue and cooperation between Israel and its neighboring countries. Both parties, the entire region, and the world stand to benefit from increased diplomatic, commercial, and security ties. I look forward to seeing the two countries advance towards this goal of full diplomatic relations.

“It is also critically important that Israel has agreed to temporarily suspend its annexation plans, however, it remains unclear for how long. Unilateral annexation undermines the prospects for a comprehensive peace agreement and threatens to destabilize the region. Annexation outside the framework of a negotiated peace agreement should not be on the table and there is no question that the actions of the Trump Administration and their ‘peace plan’ released earlier this year paved the way for its serious consideration.

“I applaud the announcement and am hopeful that it can be a signal for all sides to take more deliberate steps towards a durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This includes an end to unilateral actions by Israel that undermine a two-state solution and a greater willingness from the Palestinian leadership to come to the table for negotiations. We also desperately need U.S. leadership that promotes, not undermines, a framework to achieve a secure, democratic, and Jewish state of Israel and a viable and independent Palestinian state.