SANAA, Yemen

The head of the Southern Transitional Council (STC) in Yemen has been slammed for his remarks to normalize relations with Israel.

Earlier this week, Aidarus al-Zoubaidi said that the organization, which is backed by the United Arab Emirates, intends to normalize relations with Israel in case a separate southern Yemeni state is formed.

In an interview with Russia Today Arabic, al-Zoubaidi described the recent normalization deals with Israel “an exemplary action” to achieve regional peace. The UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco established diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020.

“All Yemenis reject normalization with the Zionist entity [Israel],” Mukhtar al-Rahbi, adviser to Yemen’s information minister, tweeted on Wednesday. He added that al-Zoubaidi did not represent the entire Yemen.

Salah Batis, a member of Shura Council, the upper house, said al-Zoubaidi’s statement gives Yemenis two choices: either back a strong, unified state or split it into three that will then compete to establish relations with Tel Aviv.

Most of the political forces in southern Yemen also denounced al-Zoubaidi’s statement.

Abdul Kareem al-Saadi, who is heading the Southern National Assembly, termed it “catastrophic,” and demanded the STC not to be influenced by Abu Dhabi.

Ali al-Musabi, the secretary general of the Front for Liberation party, said the southern Yemen problem cannot be resolved at the expense of the Palestinian cause.

Southern provinces in Yemen, have in the past few weeks, witnessed several rallies against the normalization of relations between the Arab states and Israel.

Formed in 2017, the STC controls large areas of southern Yemen, including the temporary capital Aden and Socotra province. Yemen is mired in a civil conflict since 2015.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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