WARSAW, Poland — Benjamin Netanyahu had a brief, cordial interaction with the foreign minister of Yemen in Warsaw on Thursday, reportedly prompting the prime minister to jokingly hail the “new cooperation” between the two countries.
At the opening session of a Middle East conference in the Polish capital, Netanyahu was placed next to Khaled Alyemany. The Yemeni top diplomat was already in his seat when Netanyahu arrived, and as the latter sat down, the two men exchanged a brief smile.
Later, during the part of the session that was closed to the press, Netanyahu was about to address the delegates, but his microphone didn’t function properly, according to US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt.
Alyemany then let him use his.
Greenblatt joked about the incident on Twitter, calling it a “lighthearted moment” and suggesting it may be the unlikely first step in establishing cooperation between the rival countries, which have never had diplomatic relations.
A lighthearted moment- @netanyahu microphone was not working so FM of Yemen loaned him his microphone. @Netenyahu joked about the new cooperation between Israel and Yemen. Step by step… ???????? #WarsawSummit
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) February 14, 2019
The summit appears to mark the first time an Israeli leader and senior Arab officials attended an international gathering centered on the Middle East since the 1991 Madrid peace conference, which set the stage for the landmark Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians.
Netanyahu on Thursday called on Arab states to continue normalizing relations with Israel, hailing the opening event of the so-called “Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East” as a “historic turning point,” because he was in the same room as the foreign ministers of 10 Arab countries.
“Yesterday was a historic turning point. In a room of some 60 foreign ministers and representatives of dozen of governments, an Israeli prime minister and the foreign ministers of leading Arab countries stood together and spoke with unusual force, clarity and unity against the common threat of the Iranian regime,” he said.