Netanyahu Reportedly Has Impromptu Encounter With UAE Ambassador in DC
REUTERS / Alexandros AvramidisMiddle East17:28 12.05.2018Get short URL212
To this day, Israel and the United Arab Emirates do not have diplomatic or economic relations, with the latter refusing to recognize the Jewish state. But in recent months, there’s been much speculation that Tel Aviv is secretly maintaining ties with some of its Arab neighbors.
According to The Associated Press, back in March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington, D.C. for an annual pro-Israel policy conference and spent the evening with his wife Sara in one of the finest Georgetown restaurants – Café Milano.
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By a twist of fate, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba, happened to be at the same place at the same time, hosting the State Department’s policy planning chief, Brian Hook, and a few US journalists, along with Bahrain’s ambassador, Sheikh Abdullah bin Rashed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa.
It turned out that the Americans dining with Otaiba learnt that Netanyahu was at the same Café Milano, and they decided to ask him if he would join them, passing the request through the restaurant’s owner and one of the reporters.
Surprisingly, Netanyahu and his spouse approached the group of distinguished guests and even responded to a couple of questions on Iran. They smiled, having giggled about the awkwardness of the entire situation, with the prime minister shaking hands with the two ambassadors before saying goodbye and stepping out of the upscale restaurant.
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Neither Israel, nor the UAE disclosed the details of the impromptu encounter, with both Israeli and Emirati embassies declining to comment on the unusual dinner diplomacy, which was described to the AP by six people, who had either attended the dinner or were briefed on it.
Relations between Israel and the UAE do not currently exist, as the latter does not officially recognize the Jewish state, voicing support for Palestinian statehood.
Benjamin Netanyahu once admitted that Israel had “fruitful cooperation with Arab countries” that it kept generally secret: according to Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, Tel Aviv has had secret contacts with a range of Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, with the IDF chief of staff suggesting sharing intelligence with Riyadh to counter Iran.
In last month’s interview with the Atlantic, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he believed that “the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their own land,” and that a peace agreement is needed “to assure stability for everyone and to have normal relations.”