The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem confirmed on Thursday that Israel will establish its first diplomatic mission to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Rami Hatan will head the delegation. The Israel representative will be attached to the inter-governmental International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
“This is not an Israeli embassy or consulate in the U.A.E.,” said Dore Gold, the director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “It is an office within IRENA, which is an international organization.”
Maryam Al Falasi, director of communications at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, issued a statement on Friday saying that “any agreement between IRENA and Israel does not represent any change in the position of the UAE or its relations with Israel,” Gulf News reported.
Israel has no embassy in the UAE, nor does it have official diplomatic relations with any of the Gulf states. In January 2010, Uzi Landau, Israel’s minister for infrastructure, became the first Israeli cabinet minister to visit the UAE when he participated in an IRENA conference in Abu Dhabi.
One month later, diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE were cut off after the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room. Al-Mabhouh was a co-founder of the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. He was wanted by the Israeli government for the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers in 1989 as well as purchasing arms from Iran for use in Gaza. The UAE called for Interpol to arrest Meir Dagan, the director of the Mossad, Israel’s secret service,for the murder. Israel has neither denied nor confirmed any involvement.
In January 2014, Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water, Silvan Shalom, gave a speech at an IRENA conference in the UAE and met with a number of Arab government ministers. Following Shalom’s visit, the UAE’s Foreign Minister Anwar Mohammad Gargash said that the “UAE has been able, through a delicate balance, to differentiate between Israel’s membership in IRENA and the normalization of bilateral ties which Israel has been seeking.”
The UAE does not officially recognize Israel, and Israeli passport-holders cannot legally enter the country. Restrictions were tightened against the entry of Israeli citizens following Mahbouh’s assassination in Dubai.