Israel to Attend Dubai Expo 2020, Wants to Bring Secret Relations With Arab States Into The Open

Published December 16th, 2019 - 08:24 GMT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on December 15, 2019. GALI TIBBON / POOL / AFP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on December 15, 2019. GALI TIBBON / POOL / AFP
The Israeli presence in Dubai “will create a buzz,” said Cohen.

Israeli authorities are apparently injecting more momentum into their efforts to bring out in the open their clandestine relations with a number of Arab countries, particularly Persian Gulf littoral states, the regime's officials say.

According to the officials, who have been quoted by AFP as saying, they are also hoping to reach out to Arab peoples through participation in the Expo 2020 Dubai, which the biggest and most luxurious city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is going to host for 173 days.

An Israeli pavilion at the world's largest trade fair in the Arab country will present the Tel Aviv regime a unique opportunity to open channels of communication with the Arab world and boost nascent ties with them, the officials added.

“To us, the added value is in the Arab and Muslim visitor,” said Elazar Cohen, the Israeli foreign ministry's point man for the expo, which is organized by the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE).

An auditorium below the pavilion will offer visitors an interactive multimedia experience, the foreign ministry's director general Yuval Rotem told AFP.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the Israeli expo pavilion as part of “the continued progress of normalization with the Arab states.”

The 70-year-old chairman of the Likud – National Liberal Movement alleges that building relations with Arab countries will push the Palestinians toward a ‘peace deal’ with the Israeli regime.

The Israeli presence in Dubai “will create a buzz,” said Cohen, claiming that the pavilion's display will not touch on politics.

Cohen and David Knafo, the Tel Aviv-based architect behind the design of Israel’s pavilion, both noted the warm welcome they have received in the Persian Gulf state, as work on the pavilion entered advanced stages and their visits to Dubai became more frequent.

“The attitude of the hosts is excellent. I didn't expect anything else but when you encounter it, it's heartwarming,” Cohen said.

Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on November 6 that the UAE is expected to allow tourists holding Israeli passports to take part in the expo.

“Israeli and the UAE's authorities have been in talks for a while in order to allow those with Israeli passports to attend the expo in Dubai,” an unnamed source within the expo's management team told the daily at the time.

The source added, “These talks are happening because both sides want to see the expo turn into the biggest exhibition in the world. The UAE invested tremendous amounts of money and thought into the event and they want Israelis to be welcomed as well.”


Another source said the event in Dubai could be a great pilot run during which Israeli tourists would be allowed into the country, and it can be a signal that the UAE “might leave its doors open to Israeli tourists permanently.”

The Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, told a ministerial meeting in Jerusalem al-Quds on August 6 that he was working toward “transparent normalization and signed agreements” with a number of Arab Gulf littoral states.

Katz visited the Emirati capital city of Abu Dhabi on June 30 for a UN environmental conference, where he discussed cooperation against Iran, as well as economic and transport collaboration, Israeli i24NEWS television news network reported.

On October 26 last year, the Israeli culture and sports minister, Miri Regev, traveled to the UAE to accompany Israel’s judo team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2018.

Her visit marked the first of its kind by an Israeli minister to a Persian Gulf littoral state.

The president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said last December that the then chief of staff of the Israeli military, Gadi Eisenkot, had secretly traveled twice to the UAE a month earlier, and had met with senior officials there.

Mort Fridman said an agreement on the sale of Israeli military hardware to the UAE was struck during the meeting.

Earlier this year, Israel re-launched a “virtual embassy” in a bid to “promote dialogue” with the Persian Gulf Arab states.

Arab countries — except for Jordan and Egypt — have no formal relations with the Israeli regime.

Israel’s trade with Gulf states is estimated to stand at about $1 billion annually, according to a study published by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in August 2018.

Jamal al-Suwaidi, founder of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, told the British newspaper The Guardian in an interview in March that the Palestinian issue is no longer at the top of the agenda among the Arab Persian Gulf states. 

“The Palestinian cause is no longer at the forefront of Arabs’ interests, as it used to be for long decades,” he said. “It has sharply lost priority in light of the challenges, threats and problems that face countries of the region.”

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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