Dubai (AFP) – Israel’s communications minister called for “peace and security” on Tuesday during a visit to the United Arab Emirates, as his country 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,” Ayoub Kara 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 Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Oman on Thursday and Culture Minister Miri Regev to Abu Dhabi at the weekend.
Neither Oman nor the UAE has diplomatic ties with Israel.
Normalising ties with Israel — or recognising it as a state — remains the most controversial policy debate in the Arab world, which largely boycotts Israel over its occupation of Palestinian territory.
Regev, known for controversial comments about Arabs, 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 is a member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party.
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.
The Palestinian Central Council, a body of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, on Monday authorised the PLO to suspend recognition of Israel and stop security coordination with the Jewish state.
Palestinian authorities have accused Israel of excessive force after an air strike killed three teenagers on the Gaza border on Sunday. Another Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli fire in Gaza border clashes on Monday.
Kara was speaking at the International Telecommunication Union Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai on Tuesday.