Netanyahu made secret visit to UAE
Published: 11:13 AM, 2 September 2020 Updated: 12:49 PM, 2 September 2020
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly met with Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed in the UAE in 2018, two years before Israel and the United Arab Emirates reached a historic peace deal, reports the Middle East Monitor according to Israeli news media Yedioth Aharonoth.
Diplomatic sources told the newspaper that the meeting was held in a “good atmosphere” and that there was a follow-up meeting a year later in Washington attended by Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and representatives of the US and UAE government.
According to the report, Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, was heavily involved in the negotiations that ultimately led to the normalization deal with the UAE.
The Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment on the report, though Netanyahu alluded during his address yesterday that he has held a number of “secret meetings” with Arab and Muslim leaders.
During a speech celebrating a summit in Abu Dhabi that carried the US-Israeli delegation on the first official commercial flight between the two countries, he said: “I meet with many, many leaders in the Arab and Muslim world. Much more than you think. There’s more that I still cannot tell you, but I believe it will come out eventually.”
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh denounced the flight yesterday, saying: “It is very painful to see today the landing of an Israeli plane in the United Arab Emirates in a clear violation of the Arab stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
The US-brokered deal between the UAE and Israel has raised speculation that other US-backed Gulf Arab countries might follow. However, a senior member of the Saudi royal family said this month that Riyadh would only normalize ties with Israel after the creation of a Palestinian state.
Abu Dhabi claimed the deal was an effort to stave off Tel Aviv’s planned annexation of the occupied West Bank, however, opponents believe normalization efforts have been in the offing for many years as Israeli officials have made official visits to the UAE and attended conferences in the country which had no diplomatic or other ties with the occupation state.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated on 17 August that annexation is not off the table, but has simply been delayed.