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New UAE ambassador tweets Passover greetings in Hebrew

Mohammad Al Khajah calls to celebrate ideals of ‘freedom and hopeful new beginnings,’ says he is looking forward to returning to Israel soon

The UAE's first ambassador to Israel, Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah in Jerusalem on March 1, 2021. (Mark Neyman/GPO)
The UAE's first ambassador to Israel, Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah in Jerusalem on March 1, 2021. (Mark Neyman/GPO)

The United Arab Emirates ambassador to Israel tweeted a Passover greeting Sunday night in which he called for celebrating the holiday’s themes of freedom and new beginnings.

Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah, who is not in the country, posted his message in both Hebrew and English.

“On this Passover week, let us all celebrate the universal ideals of freedom and hopeful new beginnings,” he wrote. “We have much to rejoice and look forward to. Happy Passover and Chag Sameach. See you soon Israel.”

The message came after the Israeli Embassy to the United Arab Emirates held its first Passover seder Saturday night.

Israel’s Embassy to the UAE holds its first Passover seder, March 27, 2021 (video screenshot)

Ambassador Eitan Na’eh shared a moment from the festive evening which recalls the Israelite exodus from Egypt, tweeting a video of participants singing the traditional “Ma Nishtana.”

The UAE has a small but growing Jewish community, estimated to number some 3,000 people.

Earlier this month Al Khajah completed a short preliminary visit to Israel during which he met with the country’s top leadership and scouted out suitable locations for the embassy and his home.

During his five days in the country, Al Khajah presented his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin. He also met with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told him: “We are changing the Middle East, we are changing the world.”

Al Khajah is slated to return at a later date on a more permanent basis.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with the UAE’s new ambassador to Israel Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah at his Jerusalem office on March 2, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The UAE last year agreed to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel under the Abraham Accords, in a pact brokered by the United States. Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan later normalized ties as well.

The agreements broke with the longstanding Arab idea that there should be no normalization with Israel until it reaches a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.

Diplomatic ties between Israel and the UAE have also been dragged into local Israeli politics.

Netanyahu has repeatedly been forced to cancel his plans to travel to the United Arab Emirates for his first official visit, most recently earlier this month. The prime minister had wanted to squeeze in a visit before last week’s elections in Israel but the trip came undone amid a spat with Jordan that saw those two countries close the airspace to each other.

Emirati officials were annoyed that the diplomatic ties were apparently being used by Netanyahu to burnish his credentials before the vote with one publicly commenting that “the UAE will not be a part in any internal electioneering in Israel, now or ever.”

Netanyahu then later intervened to prevent Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, of the rival Blue and White party, from traveling to the UAE to inaugurate Israel’s new missions in the Gulf country, Channel 12 reported.

Sources in the Foreign Ministry said Netanyahu blocked the visit because “he didn’t want the foreign minister to travel there before he does.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

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