(AFP) DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Communications Minister Ayoub Kara called for “peace and security” on Tuesday during a visit to the United Arab Emirates, as Israel launches an unprecedented diplomatic push into Gulf states.
“Peace and security in every state… with economic and scientific progress is what guarantees a future for the coming generations,” Kara, a member of the ruling Likud party, said at a telecommunications conference in Dubai.
Kara’s statement comes amid a diplomatic push by Israel in the mainly Sunni Gulf, which Israel sees as an ally against Shiite power Iran.
It follows visits by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Oman on Thursday and Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev to Abu Dhabi at the weekend.
Neither Oman nor the UAE has diplomatic ties with Israel.
Normalizing ties with Israel — or recognizing it as a state — remains the most controversial policy debate in the Arab world, which largely boycotts Israel over its control of areas Palestinians claim for a future state.
Regev, known for making controversial comments, on Sunday toured the famed Sheikh Zayed mosque in Abu Dhabi — wearing a red full-length abaya and white headscarf and speaking to the camera in Hebrew.
“This is the first time that an Israeli minister is here on a visit,” Regev said, surrounded by a group of people in traditional Emirati dress.
Regev also is a member of Likud.
Israel’s national anthem was also played at a judo tournament in Abu Dhabi on Sunday after one of its athletes won gold — believed to be the first time the anthem has been played publicly in an Arab Gulf state.
Netanyahu has long sought a rapprochement with Arab states, citing in part concerns over their common enemy Iran. Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab states to have full diplomatic relations with Israel.
Kara was speaking at the International Telecommunication Union Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai on Tuesday.