‘Israel opens diplomatic mission in unnamed Gulf state’

Foreign Ministry document reveals 11 new embassies and missions since 2010

Gavriel Fiske is a reporter at The Times of Israel

A Foreign Ministry economic plan for 2013-2014, to be submitted for cabinet approval this week, revealed that Israel has established a diplomatic mission in an unnamed state in the Persian Gulf, one of 11 new diplomatic missions set up in various states around the world since 2010.

The new diplomatic missions include: embassies in New Zealand, Ghana, Albania, Turkmenistan and a general embassy in the Caribbean; consulates in Guangzhou (China), Munich (Germany) and São Paulo (Brazil); a diplomatic mission in the Pacific islands; and the diplomatic office in the Gulf, whose host state was not revealed, Haaretz reported on Sunday.

Israel’s relations with the Persian Gulf’s Arab states are fraught with sensitive diplomatic and political issues. Israel used to have diplomatic missions in Oman and Qatar, but both were shut down by the host countries following Israeli military operations in 2000 and 2009.

According to Haaretz, diplomatic emails released by Wikileaks in 2010 revealed that Israeli diplomats have held meetings with officials from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, both US allies.

The Gulf countries are largely Sunni Muslim and are wary of Shiite Iran’s military and nuclear ambitions, giving them potential common ground with Israeli concerns, according to some analysts.

In recent weeks, Qatar’s prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani has driven the revivification of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

The updated version, outlined by Hamad in remarks to reporters following his meeting April 29 with Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden in Washington, pulls back from the 2002 demand that Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders in exchange for comprehensive peace.

Instead, Hamid proposed “comparable and mutual agreed minor swaps of the land” — a formulation that opens the door to Israel’s retention of several major settlement blocs. Hamad also did not mention the Palestinian “right of return” and the division of Jerusalem, elements of the original Arab initiative that had led to its rejection by the Israeli government.

The Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report.

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