UAE diplomats secretly wine and dine with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while publicly offering Iftar to Palestinians.Netanyahu’s impromptu dinner with a UAE envoy casts light on under the table cooperation between the Tel Aviv regime and Arab Persian Gulf nations.
Palestinians have launched a campaign with the hashtag “We are not hungry” (#imnothungry) on the social media, calling for the boycott of Iftar or the fast-breaking meals offered by the UAE at al-Aqsa mosque in protest at the policies of some Persian Gulf Arab states.
In March, Netanyahu was having dinner with his wife in a Georgetown restaurant while he was in the US for a pro-Israel policy conference. Halfway through their meal they were informed that the Emirati ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba, was at the restaurant and would like to meet them.
At the time, Otaiba was hosting Brian Hook, the State Department’s policy planning chief, and a group of US reporters, along with Bahrain’s ambassador, Sheikh Abdullah bin Rashed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa.
On their way out, the Netanyahus stopped by to say hello and answered a few questions from the American journalists, shook hands with the two ambassadors and left.
All of this went down as the United Arab Emirates doesn’t even formally recognize Israel’s existence.
The meeting was never publicly disclosed by the Israelis nor the Emiratis, but it was described to The Associated Press by six people who either present or were briefed on it.
The meeting itself is not a big deal, but it casts light on how friendly cooperation between Israel and the Arab nations is gradually increasing.
“It’s become an open secret, even not a secret at all, demonstrated in public ways that are taboo-breaking and important in beginning a process of preparing Arab public to share the Arab leadership’s view that Israel is a strategic partner,” said Dan Shapiro, a former US ambassador to Israel. “But there is a danger in irrational exuberance. This is a very fragile process.”
There have been numerous reports and public statements indicating covert ties between the Arab governments and Israel. Arab states, especially those in the Persian Gulf, have traditionally been depicting themselves as Israel’s enemies and supporters of the Palestinian cause against Tel Aviv’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Palestinians call for the boycott of Iftar or the fast-breaking meals offered by the UAE in protest at the policies of some Persian Gulf Arab states.
The United Arab Emirates offers Iftar meals to the worshipers at al-Aqsa mosque annually during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, but this year it was met with Palestinian rejection.
Palestinian activists in Jerusalem al-Quds attributed their rejection to the stance of some Persian Gulf Arab states, including the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, towards the Palestinian cause and their complicity with the Israeli regime, citing the participation of Bahraini and Emirati teams in the 101st Giro d’Italia cycling competition which kicked off in Israel.