A former US ambassador to Israel said on Sunday that the United Arab Emirates received Israeli technology in the wake of a 2010 assassination in Dubai, widely attributed to Mossad, amid attempts at the time to rebuild covert relations between the two nations.
According to Shapiro, there had been relations between Israel and UAE for a number of years, but they soured when Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a key Hamas missile purchaser and importer, was killed in his Dubai hotel room.
“After the assassination of Mabhouh in Dubai there was a break of around a year and a half and then we helped the two sides come together again. They started to speak to each other through [the US] about what was needed to return to relations the way they were before the assassination,” Shapiro told Army Radio.
“Bin Zayed felt personally hurt by what had happened with the understandings in the wake of the assassination,” Shaprio said, referring to UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan . “He demanded a promise that it would not happen again on his territory. He also asked for a number of technologies that up until that point Israel had not agreed [to share].”
Shapiro affirmed that Israel had agreed to hand over the tech, without elaborating on its nature.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates reached a historic agreement on Thursday to normalize relations, the third such deal the Jewish state has struck with an Arab state, after Egypt and Jordan.
Israel agreed to shelve annexation of parts of the West Bank as part of the deal, but it was unclear if the move had been put on hold permanently or temporarily. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his plan to apply Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank with full American coordination had not changed, and was still on the table, but that Trump had requested a temporary halt.
Shapiro predicted that as a result of Bin Zayed’s feeling of betrayal over the Dubai assassination, Israel would stand by the agreement not to advance annexation of parts of the West Bank, despite Netanyahu’s assertion.
“There is no chance that Israel will return to the annexation plan because they promised Bin Zayed that they will not breach his trust for a second time,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro said the announcement of normalization came after years of secret talks and cooperation between the two nations, mainly in terms of their common enemy Iran.
The relationship was “mainly about intelligence regarding Iran and jihadist groups such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State,” Shapiro said.
“It was a long-term process of cooperation that started even before the Obama administration,” said the former envoy. “When I was the ambassador, there was secret contact between Israel and the UAE, usually in Washington. Once, a senior US official sat with the two sides together, but at the time it was only behind the scenes. However, it advanced slowly, until the announcement last week.”
On Saturday, a former UAE police official who led the investigation into the killing of Mabhouh called it “a strategic mistake by the Israeli Mossad” that occurred because “they thought they would not be exposed.”
“They may have carried out such operations in other countries and not been exposed, but in this case they were exposed,” said Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, comparing the killing to acts of terror by groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and stating that he would take action to prevent any such activities, no matter the perpetrator.