UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Bin Zayed wished a happy New Year to the followers of the Jewish faith tweeting “Shana Tovah”, in what is seen as another step towards normalising ties with Israel at an official level.
Literally meaning the “head of the year”, the two-day Rosh Hashanah celebration began at sundown on Sunday and will come to an end at nightfall today.
The controversial tweet drew different reactions among his followers, where some considered it a kind of normalisation, a move advocated by US President Donald Trump during the UN General Assembly last week, when he called out the Middle East nations to fully normalise diplomatic relations with Israel.
— عبدالله بن زايد (@ABZayed) September 29, 2019
Renowned Palestinian journalist Dr Adnan Abu Amer commented on Twitter: “When people congratulate their Jewish cousins on Jewish New Year, and it’s in their language, Hebrew, their chivalry has reached its peak.”
The message by the UAE foreign minister comes after a series of undercover meetings between Abu Dhabi executives and Israeli ministers, as well as official invitations being extended to Israeli ministers to attend conference in the UAE.
Despite today also marking the 19th anniversary of the killing of 11-year-old Muhammad Al-Durrah in the Gaza Strip by Israeli soldiers, a murder which caused international outrage, Abdullah Bin Zayed failed to commemorate the fatal incident whose killers have not been brought to justice.
As part of the New Year’s celebrations, occupation forces closed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip crossings, preventing Palestinians from accessing their jobs and farmland.
To mark the celebration, Jewish settlers forced their way into Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound under heavy police guard, while Palestinians were restricted from accessing the area.