Top officials from the United States, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates held a secret trilateral meeting at the White House in December to discuss ways to counter the Iranian threat in the region, the Axios news website reported Tuesday, citing American and Israeli officials.
The Dec. 17 meeting was described as part of the Trump administration’s efforts to bolster ties between Arab countries and the Jewish state.
The meeting reportedly included Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Deputy National Security Adviser for Middle East and North Africa Victoria Coates, U.S. special representative for Iran Brian Hook and Emirati Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba, who is considered close to UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahayan.
The officials discussed coordinating their positions against Iran’s aggression in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, and the possibility of advancing a nonaggression pact between Israel and the UAE.
Such a pact could mark a possible step toward normalizing relations between Israel and the UAE.
Axios quoted a senior White House official as saying, “While the United States would certainly welcome expanding relationships between our critical allies and partners in the Middle East, we’re not going to detail private diplomatic conversations, nor do we have anything to announce.”
Channel 13 News noted that the meeting spurred a tweet several days later by the UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, apparently in support of warming Israel-UAE ties.
Al Nahyan, the UAE’s top diplomat, tweeted a link to an article titled “Islam’s reformation: an Arab-Israeli alliance is taking shape in the Middle East.”
Netanyahu responded, writing: “I welcome the closer relations between Israel and many Arab states. The time has come for normalization and peace.”
At the beginning of his weekly Cabinet meeting on Dec. 22, Netanyahu said, “The UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed spoke about a new alliance in the Middle East: An Israeli-Arab alliance. … I can only say that this remark is the result of the ripening of many contacts and efforts, which at the moment, and I emphasize at the moment, would be best served by silence.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.