Foreign Minister Israel Katz has postponed a planned visit to Dubai amid regional tensions following the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, Channel 12 news reported Saturday evening.
Katz was told by national security bodies to delay the trip due to the sensitive timing, the report said.
The visit to the United Arab Emirates was to be the first by an Israeli foreign minister in over 20 years.
Katz’s visit was set to focus on his plans to advance non-aggression treaties with several Arab countries in the Gulf. Katz has said the move aims to “end the conflict and enable civilian cooperation until the signing of peace agreements.”
A previous Channel 12 report said the deal in the workings is designed to provide for friendly bilateral relations, cooperation in a variety of fields, and no war or incitement, as both Israel and the Gulf states face an increasingly belligerent Iran.
Washington is also believed to be promoting the initiative.
Channel 12 reported Saturday that Israeli officials believe Soleimani’s killing may actually open up new opportunities for closer ties with Gulf nations, amid the US standoff with Iran and Gulf states’ reliance on US support in countering Tehran. It did not provide further details.
Katz, who is also intelligence minister, has previously met with senior Arab officials at least twice: In early July, he met an unnamed senior Emirati official during a visit to the Gulf city of Abu Dhabi. Later that month, he shared a photograph with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa during an event hosted by the US State Department in Washington. It marked the rare instance in which a top Arab official is publicly documented meeting a senior Israeli figure.
In his speech at the UN in September, Katz stressed that Israel “has a clear policy to advance ties, and normalization with the Arab Gulf States.
“We have no conflict with the Gulf states, and we have common interests in the field of security against the Iranian threat as well as in developing many joint civilian initiatives,” he said.
“Israel has a lot of capabilities in many areas, including hi-tech, innovation, agriculture and water technology, which can help the Gulf states, and the Gulf states have a lot of capabilities that can help Israel as well,” he noted. “I hope that this cooperation will lead to the signing of peace agreements between our countries, as we did with Egypt and Jordan.”
Katz’s visit to Dubai was also intended to deal with Israel’s participation in the upcoming Expo 2020 world fair in Dubai, which begins in October.
Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.