Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening said he welcomed Israel’s warming ties to Arab countries in the region, after the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates tweeted a link to a news report on the subject.
“I welcome the closer relations between Israel and many Arab states. The time has come for normalization and peace,” Netanyahu tweeted.
Earlier, the UAE’s Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan tweeted a link to a story in the UK’s Spectator, titled: “Islam’s reformation: an Arab-Israeli alliance is taking shape in the Middle East.”
The story covered the changing geopolitical landscape in the Middle East, and the realization of many Arab figures that Israel could be an important ally against Islamism and Iran’s expansionism in the region, as well as a potential partner for trade and security.
I welcome the closer relations between Israel and many Arab states. The time has come for normalization and peace.
أرحب بالتقارب الذي يحدث بين إسرائيل والكثير من الدول العربية. لقد آن الأوان لتحقيق التطبيع والسلام. https://t.co/MdDd0q8Jh0
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) December 21, 2019
Jerusalem is said to have developed clandestine ties with numerous Arab countries in recent years over the countries’ shared antipathy toward Iran and the need to counter jihadism.
Israeli officials have openly visited several such countries recently. In October 2018, Netanyahu was welcomed to Oman by the country’s longtime ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said. That same month Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev traveled to Abu Dhabi for the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam judo tournament, where Israel’s national anthem was played for the first time in the Arabian peninsula following Israeli judoka Sagi Muki’s gold win in the under-81 kilogram category.
Israel has also been invited to participate at the Expo 2020 in the UAE city of Dubai.
In June, Bahrain’s foreign minister told the Times of Israel his country wished for peace with the Jewish state.
In October, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he was advancing non-aggression treaties with several Arab nations in the Gulf, a “historic” démarche he said that could end the conflict between Jerusalem and those states.
“It’s a historic move that will end the conflict and enable civilian cooperation until the signing of peace agreements,” he said.
Arab leaders, however, have also indicated that true normalization can not take place so long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not resolved.
Al Nahyan, an UAE top diplomat, was seen in a conference clip earlier this year defending |Israel’s right to attack Iranian targets in Syria in order to prevent the Islamic Republic from entrenching itself along the border.