In diplomatic first, Israel to open mission in Abu Dhabi

Office will represent Israel to UN’s renewable energy agency, headquartered in Gulf kingdom

Abu Dhabi. (Wikimedia/CC BY 3.0/Ralf Roletschek)
Abu Dhabi. (Wikimedia/CC BY 3.0/Ralf Roletschek)

Israel is set to open its first diplomatic mission in Abu Dhabi, which is part of the United Arab Emirates.

The mission will not be a diplomatic representation to Abu Dhabi or the UAE, but to the UN’s International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which is headquartered in the Gulf emirate, Haaretz reported on Friday.

Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold was in the UAE this week to attend an IRENA gathering, but remained three days in the country to meet with IRENA director Adnan Amin and finalize the details of the new mission.

The Israeli diplomat who will hold the new post, Rami Hatan, is preparing to leave for Abu Dhabi in the coming weeks, a ministry source told Haaretz. Offices for the new mission have already been chosen.

Israel’s mission to IRENA will be the only one among the agency’s 145 member states with a diplomatic presence in Abu Dhabi formally defined as a mission to IRENA alone, and not to the emirate or UAE. Sources suggest the Israeli mission will serve the latter role informally.

The Foreign Ministry decided to open the special mission to IRENA because it meant having a public, official diplomatic presence in an Arab state without formal diplomatic relations with Israel. One official described it as a “diplomatic breakthrough.”

In January 2009, Israel cast its vote for Abu Dhabi as the site of IRENA’s headquarters (over rival contender Germany) with the explicit condition that IRENA’s presence in the Gulf state would allow Israel to open an official, publicly acknowledged diplomatic office there.

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