Israel reactivates 'virtual embassy' in the Gulf

First launched in 2013, the initiative, which consists of a Twitter handle, was abandoned a year later.

    Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev at a judo tournament in the UAE days after Netanyahu's Oman visit [File: Kamran Jebreili/AP]
    Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev at a judo tournament in the UAE days after Netanyahu's Oman visit [File: Kamran Jebreili/AP]

    Israel's foreign ministry has reactivated a "virtual embassy" aimed at promoting dialogue with the Gulf countries.

    First launched in mid-2013, the embassy had been active on Twitter for less than a year before going offline in early 2014.

    "We are pleased to announce the relaunch of 'Israel in the Gulf' page which aims to promote dialogue between Israel and the Gulf nations," the ministry said on Tuesday.

    "We hope this virtual embassy will contribute to deepen understanding between the peoples of the Gulf and the people of Israeli in various fields," it added.

    Ofir Gendelman, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, took to Twitter before the relaunch to urge the Gulf followers to follow the page "with a view to promoting dialogue between you and us".

    While Israel does not maintain any diplomatic relations with any of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, analysts say some of the countries are not opposed to normalising ties with Tel Aviv. 

    In October, Netanyahu paid a surprise visit to Muscat following an invitation by Oman's Sultan Qaboos.

    Shortly after that visit, Israeli Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev attended a judo tournament in Abu Dhabi, where the Israeli anthem was also played. 

    Other Israeli officials who recently visited the Gulf include Communication Minister Ayoub Kara, who gave a speech during a telecommunications conference in Dubai on October 30. 

    Netanyahu has frequently spoken about growing Arab-Israeli relations over the last year.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies