Senior UAE official dispatched to warn Netanyahu over potential crisis in ties

In meetings with PM and president, Khaldoon Al Mubarak raises concern over treatment of Palestinians, cautions that an Israeli misstep during Ramadan may undermine Abraham Accords

Khaldoon Al Mubarak at a soccer match in England, April 10, 2018. (Anthony Devlin/AFP)
Khaldoon Al Mubarak at a soccer match in England, April 10, 2018. (Anthony Devlin/AFP)

A senior United Arab Emirates government official met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week and reportedly warned him that the Israeli government’s conduct was straining ties between the countries.

Khaldoon Al Mubarak was dispatched by UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to whom he is a senior adviser, in order to convey a message to the Israeli government concerning its treatment of Palestinians, the Kan public broadcaster reported

“The direction of this government goes completely against the Abraham Accords,” Mubarak was quoted as having told Netanyahu.

“The Israeli government’s actions endanger any potential advance [in relations] with the UAE and other Arab countries. Some [Israeli] politicians are even supporting violence. This goes against the spirit of the Abraham Accords and the current practice, and endangers regional stability,” he reportedly added.

In the wake of a terror attack that killed two Israeli brothers in the Palestinian West Bank town of Huwara in February, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, echoing the calls of another far-right MK, said the town should be “wiped out.” He later retracted the comment, but not before condemnation poured in from around the world, including Abu Dhabi.

Mubarak, who also met with President Isaac Herzog, told Netanyahu that his government’s “escalation” against the Palestinians was creating regional instability and “playing into the hands of extremists,” who he said were looking for any excuse for a confrontation, the report said.

Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, 18-20 May 2007. (Wikipedia/World Economic Forum; CC BY-SA 2.0)

Particular emphasis was placed on the Temple Mount holy site during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began on Thursday, with Mubarak warning the premier that any Israeli misstep could harm relations with the UAE, the Ynet news site reported.

Ties between Israel and the UAE were established in 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords brokered by the administration of former US president Donald Trump.

According to a Channel 12 report, Mubarak warned Netanyahu that instability would have a detrimental impact on Emirati financial investments in Israel.

“Your situation doesn’t look good and it could impact our investments,” he was quoted as saying.

In response, the Prime Minister’s Office retorted that the report was “inaccurate,” and added that “the prime minister is leading Israel’s foreign relations responsibly.”

Netanyahu was set for his first official visit to Abu Dhabi in January, but Al Nahyan canceled the trip after National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir visited the Temple Mount, which the UAE denounced as the minister’s “storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard.”

Since then, Netanyahu has not been reinvited to Abu Dhabi, and has told members of his government that they are forbidden from visiting the Gulf state until he pays the UAE capital an official visit, Channel 12 reported.

Netanyahu was said to have laid down a similar rule regarding the US, which has yet to invite the Israeli premier for an official visit. The Israeli government has repeatedly drawn the ire of the Biden administration, which on Tuesday summoned Israeli Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog for a rare unscheduled meeting.

While that meeting was directly linked to the Knesset’s approval of a repeal of part of the 2005 Disengagement Law, which the US said flies in the face of earlier agreements made between the countries, a US official told The Times of Israel that the meeting was the culmination of a series of incidents, including the controversial judicial overhaul, expansion of West Bank settlements and inflammatory remarks made by Smotrich and other government members.

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