| 24 February 2024, Saturday |

UAE suspends Abu Dhabi summit over Netanyahu’s electioneering

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has suspended a planned summit in Abu Dhabi with Israel and Arab states angered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s invoking one of its rulers in his election campaign, Israeli media reported.

The summit scheduled for April was supposed to be attended by Netanyahu, a US official from the Biden administration, and leaders from other Arab states that have normalised relations with Israel, according to Israeli daily Haaretz. 

The Israeli newspaper reported that Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, known as MBZ, is “outraged” at what he regards as Netanyahu “exploiting the normalisation deal with Israel as a part of his election campaign”.

The Israeli media reports pointed to MBZ’s dissatisfaction with Netanyahu publicly claiming in a campaign rally that the Abu Dhabi crown prince has assured him of an immediate investment of up to $10bn into the country.

According to Israeli channel Kan, the UAE does not want to be part of Netanyahu’s election campaign, and has asked him to postpone his visit – which was planned to take place tomorrow – until after the Israeli elections.

The UAE will not get involved in Israeli electioneering, an Emirati official said Wednesday, in pointed comments amid new reports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to visit ahead of elections next week.

Israel and the UAE established ties last year in a diplomatic coup for Netanyahu brokered by his staunch ally, former US president Donald Trump.

The deal, known as the Abraham Accords, made the UAE only the third Arab state to establish relations with Israel, following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

“From the UAE’s perspective, the purpose of the Abrahamic Accords is to provide a robust strategic foundation to foster peace and prosperity with the State of Israel and in the wider region,” tweeted Anwar Gargash, adviser to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed.

“The UAE will not be a part in any internal electioneering in Israel, now or ever,” he said, without elaborating.

The comments from Gargash, who until recently was the face of UAE diplomacy as its minister of state for foreign affairs, were unusually candid for an Emirati official.

They came after Netanyahu last week cancelled what would have been a historic visit to the UAE, citing a disagreement with Jordan over the premier crossing its airspace.

The UAE had never confirmed the visit, but said the same day that it was setting up a $10 billion investment fund aimed at strategic sectors in Israel.

The decision, the UAE official news agency WAM said, was taken following a “constructive” phone call between Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.

There was new speculation Wednesday that Netanyahu could be scheduling a visit again, but there was no official comment from either side.

The Israeli prime minister said last week that he had spoken to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, and that the pair agreed to meet “very soon.”

AFP – AL Arabiya