Israel’s Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom is scheduled to visit the United Arab Emirates in the first official visit by an Israeli minister since a suspected Mossad assassination in 2010.
Shalom will head an Israeli delegation to the World Future Energy Summit that is set for January 20-22 in Abu Dhabi.
The delegation will include two of Shalom’s advisors, several ministry officials, and some private sector representatives, Reuters reported on Thursday.
Israel and the UAE do not have formal diplomatic relations, and already strained ties were exacerbated after the UAE accused Israel’s Mossad spy agency of killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas military commander engaged in the importing of weaponry to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, in a Dubai hotel room in 2010.
Israel never confirmed its involvement in the assassination but the Dubai police published a list of some 26 Israelis it said were involved in the incident, all of whom used non-Israeli passports.
Mutual concern over Iran’s nuclear program is considered to be contributing to improved relations between Israel and some Gulf states, including the UAE. Unconfirmed media reports in the past several years have indicated covert military ties between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi.
The UAE is comprised of the seven emirates of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain.