UAE can work with Israel, despite political differences -senior official

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Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said communication with Israel was important and would yield better results than other routes taken in the past

Reuters, Ynet

The United Arab Emirates can work with Israel on some areas, including fighting the new coronavirus and on technology, while still having political differences with the state, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Addressing a conference of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), a leading Jewish advocacy group, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said communication with Israel was important and would yield better results than other routes taken in the past.

His question and answer session, described as “historic” by the AJC, is the latest in a series of apparent gestures to Israel from the emirates.

In recent weeks, two UAE flag-carrier planes carrying aid for Palestinians have landed at Ben Gurion airport, including one marked with the Etihad markings.

Last week, the UAE Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba wrote an opinion piece for Ynet, the first-ever by an Arab official in an Israeli news outlet saying Israel cannot expect to normalize relations with the Arab world if it annexes land in the occupied West Bank.

Israel has no diplomatic relations with Gulf Arab countries, but common concerns over Iran’s regional influence have led to a limited thaw in ties. In May, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad made the first known flight by a UAE carrier to Israel, carrying coronavirus-related aid for the Palestinians.

“Can I have a political disagreement with Israel but at the same time try and bridge other areas of the relationship? I think I can and I think this is fundamentally where we are,” Gargash said.

He added that cooperation on the challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic does not affect the UAE’s opposition to the proposed annexation or other political issues.

 

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