UAE suspends Abu Dhabi summit over Netanyahu’s electioneering

The move comes after Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince ‘outraged’ at Netanyahu ‘exploiting’ normalisation deal during Israeli election campaign.

In this file photo Israeli and United Arab Emirates flags line a road in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya, on August 16, 2020.
In this file photo Israeli and United Arab Emirates flags line a road in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya, on August 16, 2020 [File: Jack Guez/AFP]

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has suspended a planned summit in Abu Dhabi with Israel and Arab states angered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s invoking one of its rulers in his election campaign, Israeli media reported.

The summit scheduled for April was supposed to be attended by Netanyahu, a US official from the Biden administration, and leaders from other Arab states that have normalised relations with Israel, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

The Israeli newspaper reported that Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, known as MBZ, is “outraged” at what he regards as Netanyahu “exploiting the normalisation deal with Israel as a part of his election campaign”.

The Israeli media reports pointed to MBZ’s dissatisfaction with Netanyahu publicly claiming in a campaign rally that the Abu Dhabi crown prince has assured him of an immediate investment of up to $10bn into the country.

According to Israeli channel Kan, the UAE does not want to be part of Netanyahu’s election campaign, and has asked him to postpone his visit – which was planned to take place tomorrow – until after the Israeli elections.

Emirati former Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash said that the UAE “will not be a part of any internal electioneering in Israel, now or ever”.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Gargash said “from the UAE’s perspective, the purpose of the Abrahamic Accords is to provide a robust strategic foundation to foster peace and prosperity with the State of Israel and in the wider region,” rather than interfering in internal elections.

For his part, Netanyahu told Israeli Army Radio on Wednesday he will travel to the Gulf country after the March 23 Israeli elections are over.

“I will not travel to Abu Dhabi before the elections. I will go there later,” he said.

Since the announcement of normalisation of relations between the two countries in August last year, Netanyahu has several times postponed planned visits to the UAE.

The latest postponement happened last week when Jordan refused to allow Netanyahu’s flight to cross over its airspace.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies