Netanyahu hints at UAE visit before end of the year

‘I intend to visit you soon, during this year,' Netanyahu tells Jewish community leaders in UAE

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday he intends to visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before the end of 2020.

“I intend to visit you soon, during this year,” Netanyahu told Jewish community leaders in the UAE via the Zoom application, according to a statement issued by his office.

“This is a very great day for the State of Israel and for the Jewish people,” he said, referring to a normalization agreement with the UAE that was announced last week by US President Donald Trump.

Within the region, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Oman publicly welcomed the Abraham Accord. Saudi Arabia has remained silent, though there is significant speculation among analysts that this nonreaction is a sign that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman supports the agreement but is constrained because his father, the king, opposes normalization with Israel.

 

Deal an act of desperation?

In geopolitical terms, the joint statement announces that the US, Israel and the UAE will together launch a Strategic Agenda for the Middle East to expand diplomatic, trade, and security cooperation based on the three countries’ “similar outlook regarding the threats and opportunities in the region, as well as a shared commitment to promoting stability through diplomatic engagement, increased economic integration, and closer security coordination.”

Fundamentally, the US’ historical role as a provider of security is changing. This is where the Turkey-Qatar axis becomes an existential threat for the UAE. We may expect a Israel-UAE convergence to counter Turkey’s Islamist policies and “neo-Ottomanism.” Libya is a theater of conflict between Turkey and the UAE.

In the Turkish perspective, both Israel and the UAE are adversaries who support Kurds. Any meaningful improvement in Turkish-Israeli relations can be ruled out so long as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promotes Hamas. Meanwhile, Erdogan believes that the UAE was a staging ground for the failed July 15, 2016, coup d’état to kill him and overthrow his

Iran, Qatar, and Turkey have all criticized the accord, with the latter threatening to withdraw its ambassador from Abu Dhabi. Civil society organizations throughout the region remain steadfast in their opposition to normalizing relations with Israel. These include groups in the Gulf, which have spoken out specifically against the Israeli-Emirati agreement.

Relations with other Gulf nations

Among countries in the Gulf, Bahrain is most likely to follow the UAE. King Hamad has overseen steps toward normalization, including allowing Israeli officials to attend a regional security meeting in the country. Additionally, the Israeli foreign minister has met with his Bahraini counterpart and that official’s predecessor.

Oman is another possible candidate for normalization. Netanyahu met with the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Muscat in late 2018. However, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, who came to power in January 2020, could act more cautiously regarding relations with Israel as he consolidates his power.

Morocco and Sudan might also seek to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

According to a report by Yeshiva World News, a New York-based online news publication, 150 Jewish families, consisting of 2,000 to 3,000 members, reside in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, coming from the US, Europe and South Africa.

Read more: Israel-UAE deal gives Israel keys to the city of Jerusalem

The UAE is the first Gulf state and third Arab nation to have full diplomatic relations with Israel after Egypt and Jordan.

Despite reports that the deal halted Israel’s controversial plan to annex parts of the West Bank, Netanyahu confirmed his government’s continued commitment to go ahead with annexation plans.

Read more: UAE-Israel deal: A betrayal of the Palestinian people?

Palestinian groups denounced the deal, saying it does nothing to serve to the Palestinian cause and ignores the rights of Palestinians.

Prince Salman’s father is opposed to normalisation with Israel

Within the region, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Oman publicly welcomed the Abraham Accord. Saudi Arabia has remained silent, though there is significant speculation among analysts that this nonreaction is a sign that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman supports the agreement but is constrained because his father, the king, opposes normalization with Israel.

Iran, Qatar, and Turkey have all criticized the accord, with the latter threatening to withdraw its ambassador from Abu Dhabi. Civil society organizations throughout the region remain steadfast in their opposition to normalizing relations with Israel. These include groups in the Gulf, which have spoken out specifically against the Israeli-Emirati agreement.

Among countries in the Gulf, Bahrain is most likely to follow the UAE. King Hamad has overseen steps toward normalization, including allowing Israeli officials to attend a regional security meeting in the country. Additionally, the Israeli foreign minister has met with his Bahraini counterpart and that official’s predecessor.

Oman is another possible candidate for normalization. Netanyahu met with the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Muscat in late 2018. However, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, who came to power in January 2020, could act more cautiously regarding relations with Israel as he consolidates his power.

Morocco and Sudan might also seek to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk

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