A senior official in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has called on Arab nations to change their decades-long strategy of having no diplomatic relations with Israel, which he brands as a mistake.
Anwar Gargash, the tiny Persian Gulf regime’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said that the Arab world needed a “strategic shift” in its ties with the regime in Tel Aviv.
“Many, many years ago, when there was an Arab decision not to have contact with Israel, that was a very, very wrong decision, looking back,” he told the UAE-based news website The National.
“The strategic shift needs actually for us to progress on the peace front,” said Gargash, who also believed that the boycott of Israel has made finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more complicated.
“From the perspective of the UAE, we do need to resolve it, because this issue has this tendency of jumping out of the background when it’s quiet to suddenly becoming headline news.”
Among the Arab countries, the governments of Egypt and Jordan are the only ones having formal diplomatic ties with Israel.
The call for open ties with Israel comes after US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Syria’s occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territories.
Israel occupied the area during the Six-Day War with Arab armies in 1967 and went on to annex the East Jerusalem al-Quds. The international community has condemned both moves and repeatedly called on Israel to give back the territories.
Trump, however, recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli “capital” in December 2017 and moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the ancient city in May last year, sparking global condemnations.
Israel lays claim to the whole city, but the Palestinians view it as the capital of their future sovereign state. The city has been designated as “occupied” under international law since it fell to Israel.
The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, are known to have secretly developed expansive ties with Tel Aviv over the past years.
Israeli media reported in late January that UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the country’s national security adviser had paid a not-so-secret visit to Israel with a direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv.The trip came a few days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a tour of regional countries in a bid to unite Arab countries and the Israeli regime against Iran.
In an interview with Fox News on January 4, Pompeo was asked about an unofficial anti-Iran alliance between the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan.
“Undoubtedly. We have set the conditions in the Middle East where these countries are now working together across multiple fronts,” Pompeo said.
The outgoing chief of staff of the Israeli military, Gadi Eisenkot, reportedly made two secret visits in November to the United Arab Emirates, where he met with senior officials.
In June, the New Yorker magazine reported that Israel had maintained a secret but extremely close relationship with the UAE for more than two decades, with a special focus on intelligence sharing and military cooperation, including potential weapons deals.