Israel to open first ever official diplomatic presence in Abu Dhabi


Israel will for the first time ever open an official – and visible – presence in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, in the coming weeks, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said. The new legation will be officially accredited to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), headquartered in Abu Dhabi, he confirmed.

He would give no further comment on an article by Barak Ravid of the Israeli Haaretz daily, which called the opening of the office a "diplomatic achievement" for Israel. It will be no formal embassy, as Israel has no official diplomatic ties with the Gulf state, but it still is the first time that Israel has an official and visible presence in the Arab state.

The only two Arab countries that have ties with Israel are Egypt and Jordan, who signed peace treaties with it 1979 and 1994 respectively. But for years there have been reports of secret, unofficial cooperation between Israel and several pro-Western Arab states, who among others view Iran as a common enemy and threat.

Formally, the Arab League announced in a 2002 Saudi-led initiative that its members would normalize relations with Israel, only after the latter pulls out of the occupied territories and signs a peace deal with the Palestinians. Dore Gold, the director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry, visited Abu Dhabi this week to participate in the biannual meeting of IRENA'' Council, but also to finalize the opening of the Israeli office, Ravid said.

A senior official in Jerusalem added that office space for the new mission has already been found and that it is undergoing final preparations before the formal opening. Discussions about an official Israeli presence in Abu Dhabi have been conducted in great secrecy for several years. This was the reason that Israel, at the conference that founded IRENA in 2009, unexpectedly supported the UAE instead of Germany as the organization's world headquarters, Ravid said.

A condition for Israel's support for the UAE was that no restrictions would be imposed on Israeli participation in the activities of IRENA in Abu Dhabi, regardless of political realities, and that Israel would be permitted to open a diplomatic mission there that would be accredited to the agency.    (dpa)

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