UAE security delegation reportedly visited Israel over the weekend; Meetings with security officials and IDF base tours were given; Netanyahu held secret meeting with Egyptian President in June.
Reports surfaced that a security delegation from the United Arab Emirates visited Israel in secret over the weekend. The delegation reportedly met with Israeli security and military officials and toured IDF bases.
The delegation’s visit to Israel is one of dozens of secret meetings reported between Israel with Gulf State and Egyptian officials, as warming ties between Israel with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates continue to develop.
There have been reports of secret meetings and talks between Israel and the United Arab Emirates since 2016. The last reported meeting was in May between Prime Minister Netanyahu and UAE Ambassador to the United States, Yousef al Otaiba, in Washington.
Media reports on Monday also claimed Prime Minister Netanyahu met in secret with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in May of this year. According to reports, the prime minister flew to Egypt with a small group of advisors, talks with Sisi centered on the US peace plan, ongoing terror from the Gaza Strip and regional coordination. The meeting also focused on Egypt’s ongoing efforts to establish a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, as well as strategies to return the Gaza Strip to Palestinian Authority control.
The Office of Prime Minister Netanyahu refused to comment on the reports. Israel’s Finance Minister, Moshe Kahalon, however, did report during a radio interview on Tuesday that he was aware of the meeting and that all talks and efforts with the Gaza Strip are being mediated by Egypt.
At least three meetings have been reported between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Israeli officials since 2017. In June, a secret meeting between Netanyahu, the Crown Prince and an UAE diplomat in Amman on the sidelines during meetings with Jordanian Kind Abdullah II were reported. Days following, meetings were held with White House special adviser Jared Kushner and US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt in Jordan, Egypt, Qatar and Israel, talks centered on the US peace plan.
In March 2018, the Saudi Crown Prince met with Israeli officials in Egypt. Prior to this, in November of last year, the prince was reported to have met with Israeli officials in Israel, the meeting centered on Arab initiatives to resume the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as Iran.
In April of this year, the Saudi Prince officially recognized Israel’s right to exist. He also publicly recognized Israel’s growing stance in the region and possible future relations between Gulf states and Israel, stating at the time “There are a lot of interests we share with Israel and if there is peace, there would be a lot of interest between Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries.”
At the beginning of 2018, the Swiss newspaper Basler Zeitung, released a detailed report on Israeli-Saudi military coordination and developing diplomatic relations. The report referred to Israel and Saudi Arabia’s relations as “very advanced” and centered mainly on Saudi cooperation with Israel on regional developments, mainly involving Iran, but also on reports it intends to purchase defense systems, such as the Iron Dome and tanks, from Israel.
Photo: Maciej Bledowski/Shutterstock.com