UAE postponed Netanyahu trip over fear of ‘tension with Iran’: Report
This is reportedly the fifth time the Israeli prime minister’s visit to the Gulf state was postponed or canceled
By News Desk - March 03 2023

(Photo Credit: AFP)

US media outlet Axios released a report on 1 March claiming that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned trip to the UAE, which was set for January, was postponed at the start of that month due to “Emirati concerns” that the visit would exacerbate “regional tensions with Iran,” according to three Israeli officials.

Axios states that this was the fifth time an official visit by Netanyahu to the Gulf country was postponed or canceled.

Netanyahu had said following his victory in the election that his first foreign trip as prime minister would be to the UAE. The trip was scheduled for the second week of January, Axios says, but following the controversial storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on 3 January by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, the prime minister’s office announced the postponement of the visit.

The prime minister’s aides claimed that the postponement was due to logistics. However, three anonymous Israeli officials who were involved in the planning of the trip were quoted to have said: “The Emiratis wanted the visit to focus on celebrating the Abraham Accords and the countries’ bilateral relationship … But Netanyahu wanted to use the visit as a public signal to Iran.”

“The Emiratis were concerned Netanyahu would give public statements against Iran while on their soil. They didn’t want the visit to increase tensions with Iran and decided to postpone it,” Axios further cites the Israeli sources as saying.

Netanyahu’s office and two Emirati officials have declined to comment.

According to Axios, the Israeli prime minister “understood the situation and is committed to keeping any visit to the UAE focused on bilateral issues.” However, following the unprecedented escalation of tensions in recent days – which has been fueled by Israel’s violence, oppression, and extreme government policies – the scheduling of a new visit by Netanyahu to the UAE currently remains delayed.

This month, the Emiratis had been planning on drafting and putting to vote a resolution at the UN Security Council condemning the illegal expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. However, US pressure prompted them to call it off, and Abu Dhabi ended up drafting a ‘presidential statement’ instead – a ‘less controversial’ move in Israel’s eyes.

Although the UAE remains committed to its relationship with Israel, which cannot help but be geared towards Iran – Abu Dhabi also has somewhat positive ties with Tehran, which it seemingly does not wish to fully compromise.

This is despite the longstanding territorial dispute between the two nations over three Persian Gulf islands, as well as overall regional tension.

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