UAE to maintain ties with Israel despite Gaza outcry

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) intends to uphold diplomatic relations with Israel, despite the worldwide outcry over the growing toll of the conflict in Gaza.

The UAE goals to exert some moderating affect over the Israeli marketing campaign whereas safeguarding its pursuits, 4 sources acquainted with UAE authorities coverage instructed Reuters.

In 2020, Abu Dhabi turned probably the most outstanding Arab nation to set up diplomatic ties with Israel in three a long time by means of the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords. This growth paved the way in which for different Arab states to provoke their very own ties with Israel, breaking a longstanding taboo on normalizing relations with out the prior creation of a Palestinian state.

The mounting loss of life toll from Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip – launched in retaliation for cross-border assaults on Oct. 7 by the Hamas militant group that governs the enclave – have stirred outrage in Arab capitals.

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan spoke final month with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. UAE officers have publicly condemned Israel’s actions and repeatedly known as for an finish to the violence.

In response to a request for remark for this story, an Emirati official mentioned the UAE’s rapid precedence was to safe a ceasefire and to open up humanitarian corridors.

The Gulf Arab energy, backed by its oil wealth, wields important affect in regional affairs. It additionally serves as a safety associate of the United States, internet hosting American forces.

As effectively as talking to Israel, the UAE has labored to reasonable public positions taken by Arab states so that after the conflict ends there may be the potential of a return to a broad dialogue, mentioned the 4 sources, who requested not to be recognized due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Sheikh Mohamed met in Abu Dhabi on Thursday with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to talk about requires an instantaneous humanitarian ceasefire, amid Qatari-brokered talks for the discharge of a restricted variety of hostages in return for a break within the combating.

“The UAE and Qatar stand firm in urging the need to advance de-escalation efforts and secure a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the region,” Sheikh Mohamed mentioned on social media after their discussions.

Despite nearer financial and safety ties with Israel cast over the previous three years, Abu Dhabi has had little obvious success in reining within the Gaza offensive, which has led to the loss of life of greater than 11,000 folks, in accordance to Palestinian officers. Hamas killed round 1,200 folks in its shock assault on Israel and a few 240 hostages have been taken, Israeli authorities have mentioned.

Amid the deadlock, the UAE has grown more and more pissed off with its most essential safety associate Washington, which it believes isn’t exerting sufficient stress to finish the conflict, the 4 sources mentioned.

Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE president, mentioned this week that Washington wanted to finish the battle swiftly and provoke a course of to resolve the a long time outdated Israeli-Palestinian challenge by addressing refugees, borders and East Jerusalem.

The UAE has publicly expressed concern that the conflict now dangers igniting regional tensions and a brand new wave of extremism within the Middle East.

Speaking on Oct. 18 on the UN Security Council, the place the UAE holds a rotating seat, ambassador Lana Nusseibeh mentioned that Abu Dhabi had sought through the Abraham Accords with Israel and the United States to ship prosperity and safety in a brand new Middle East by means of cooperation and peaceable co-existence.

“The indiscriminate damage visited upon the people of Gaza in pursuit of Israel’s security risks extinguishing that hope,” she mentioned.

A senior European official instructed Reuters that Arab states had recognised now that it was not attainable to construct ties with Israel with out addressing the Palestinian challenge. Israel’s international ministry declined to remark for this story.

NO BREAK IN TIES

The UAE continues to host an Israeli ambassador and there was no prospect of an finish to diplomatic ties, which represented a longer-term strategic precedence by Abu Dhabi, the sources mentioned.

The accord was motivated, partly, by shared issues over the risk posed by Iran, in addition to a broader economic-driven realignment of Abu Dhabi’s international coverage. The UAE sees Iran as a risk to regional safety, though in recent times it has taken diplomatic steps to de-escalate tensions.

Israel and the UAE have developed shut financial and safety ties within the three years since normalisation, together with defence cooperation. Israel provided the UAE with air defence programs after missile and drone assaults on Abu Dhabi in early 2022 by the Iran-aligned Houthi motion in Yemen.

Bilateral commerce has exceeded $6 billion since 2020, in accordance to Israeli authorities knowledge. Israeli vacationers have thronged resorts, seashores and purchasing centres within the UAE, which is an OPEC oil energy and a regional enterprise hub.

“They (UAE) have gains that they don’t want to lose,” mentioned one of many sources, a senior diplomat based mostly within the Middle East.

Even earlier than the Oct. 7 assault, nonetheless, Abu Dhabi was involved by the failure of Israel’s right-wing authorities to curb the growth of Jewish settlements within the West Bank and repeated visits by right-wing spiritual Israelis to the compound that homes the Al Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest website in Islam. The compound, revered by Jews as a vestige of their two historic temples, has lengthy been a flashpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian battle.

None of 4 sources dominated out that the UAE might downgrade or sever its ties if the disaster escalated.

Sources mentioned that the displacement of the Palestinian inhabitants from the Gaza Strip or the West Bank into Egypt or Jordan was a pink line for Abu Dhabi.

James Dorsey, a senior fellow on the National University of Singapore, mentioned the conflict in Gaza had discredited the notion that financial cooperation by itself might construct a secure area. “The new Middle East was being built on very fragile ground,” he instructed Reuters.

DISTANCED FROM HAMAS

Israel has rejected worldwide requires an instantaneous ceasefire: Netanyahu has mentioned there can be no halt to its assault till hostages are returned. His authorities has pledged to destroy Hamas, which is classed as a terrorist organisation by the US and the EU.

While criticising Israel’s conduct of the conflict, Abu Dhabi has additionally condemned Hamas for its assault. The UAE sees the Palestinian militant group and different Islamists as a risk to the soundness of the Middle East and past.

“Hamas is not their favourite organisation,” mentioned one of many sources. “It is Muslim Brotherhood after all.”

The UAE has led the cost in opposition to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest Islamist organisation within the Arab World.

It helped Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi topple Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in a navy takeover in 2013 that adopted mass protests in opposition to his rule. The UAE offered Egypt with billions of {dollars} in help following Mursi’s ouster.

Abu Dhabi additionally deserted Sudan’s former Islamist president Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2019, finally main to the autumn of the Muslim Brotherhood’s grip on energy thereafter it had dominated Sudanese politics for many years. The UAE had beforehand pumped billions of {dollars} into Sudan’s coffers.

With inputs from Reuters.

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