Netanyahu said to ban ministers from visiting UAE until he makes trip first

PM reportedly holding back cabinet members including Miri Regev, who visited Abu Dhabi 2 years ago when she was sports minister

Israel's Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, center, visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi with UAE officials on October 29, 2018. (Courtesy Chen Kedem Maktoubi)
Israel's Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, center, visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi with UAE officials on October 29, 2018. (Courtesy Chen Kedem Maktoubi)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly banned his government ministers from visiting the United Arab Emirates until he personally makes an official trip to the Gulf state.

The directive, reported by the Walla news site on Monday, came after several ministers, including Transportation Minister Miri Regev of Likud, expressed interest in traveling to Abu Dhabi following the normalization deal between the two countries.

The report, which cites three officials involved in the issue, also said no such visit by Netanyahu to the UAE is currently planned, though the two countries have exchanged invitations after forging diplomatic ties.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not deny the report, according to Walla.

Regev’s office, meanwhile, said she may accompany Netanyahu on a future trip.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al Tayer (R) at Ben Gurion Airport, October 20, 2020 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

“The minister is advancing cooperation in the field of transportation after the peace agreements and should there be a professional need, she will travel in the prime minister’s delegation for meetings with her counterparts in the UAE and other countries,” it said.

Several Israeli delegations have visited the UAE since the normalization deal was announced, but ministers were not a part of them.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also did not attend the White House signing of the normalization agreements last month, even though the UAE and Bahrain sent their top diplomats.

Regev visited the UAE in October 2018 in her role as sports minister, in the first open visit by an Israeli minister. Then-transportation minister Israel Katz visited several months later.

The Israeli government on Sunday officially ratified Israel’s normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates, sealing a landmark treaty that is opening Israel to the Gulf and redrawing the contours of the Middle East.

The so-called “Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations, and Full Normalization Between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel,” which was signed on September 15 at the White House, will enter into force as soon as the government in Abu Dhabi ratifies the agreement as well. It is expected to do so by issuing a decree.

L-R: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan participate in the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House on September 15, 2020. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

Once both parties have ratified the agreement, the treaty will be transmitted to the secretary-general of the United Nations for registration in the UN Treaty Series, a massive compendium of international treaties.

In parallel, Israeli and Emirati officials are currently negotiating various bilateral agreements, including about the opening of embassies and visa exemptions for visitors from both countries.

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