Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said that he had asked the American Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to help Israel normalise ties with Gulf states.
Taking to Twitter, Katz wrote on Monday: “I asked the American secretary of the Treasury to help Israel build economic relations with the Gulf States in the light of the continuous normalisation wave, mainly with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
He added: “In light of the Iranian threats and the alliance between America, Israel and the Sunni Gulf states, there is a historical opportunity being evolved that we must not lose. The goal of this opportunity is to reach a non-aggression deal.”
His calls come as there has been an increase in the number of meetings between officials from Gulf states and Israel.
Israel’s Labor party leader Avi Gabbay has visited a number of Arab state, including the UAE. According to the Times of Israel, the Moroccan national involved in arranging the December meeting had “previously arranged other meetings for Gabbay with senior Arab officials”.
Gabbay was not the first Israeli establishment figure to visit the UAE in 2018, with Israel’s Culture and Sports Minister visiting the Gulf state in October. Miri Regev attended the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Judo tournament after being invited to support the Israeli national team that had been granted permission to participate, despite the fact that the two countries do not hold formal diplomatic relations and Israeli passports are not valid for travel to the UAE.
Just days after Regev’s visit to Abu Dhabi, Israel’s Communication Minister Ayoub Kara spoke at a conference in Dubai. Kara told the audience – which had gathered for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) conference – that “peace and security in every state […] with economic and scientific progress is what guarantees a future for the coming generations”. In a tweet following the event Kara wrote: “It is amazing and heartwarming to receive thunderous applause at the ITU conference in Dubai. I would like to thank the Government and people of the United Arab Emirates of Dubai for their warm hospitality.”
Israeli-Emirati relations reached new heights in 2018, against the backdrop of Israel’s efforts to foster normalisation with a number of Arab countries. In August, Israeli journalist Edy Cohen claimed that an Emirati pilot participated in the bombing of Palestinian targets in the besieged Gaza Strip during his training on Israeli Air Force F-35 fighters in July. Cohen also accused Dubai’s Deputy Chairman of Police and Public Security, General Dhahi Khalfan, of being complicit in assassinating Hamas leader Mahmoud Mabhouh in Dubai in 2010.
In June, an exposé by the New Yorker revealed that Israel and the UAE have been engaged in secret normalisation talks since as early as the 1990s. The report disclosed that “the secret relationship between Israel and the UAE can be traced back to a series of meetings in a nondescript office in Washington D.C. after the signing of the Oslo Accords.” These meetings discussed the possibility of the UAE purchasing F-16 fighter jets from the US, which are known to be comprised of Israeli technology. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed Bin Zayed, also gave his blessing for delegations of influential Jewish-Americans to be taken to Abu Dhabi to meet with Emirati officials and establish an intelligence-sharing relationship.