According to Israeli outlets, Netanyahu’s plan to visit United Arab Emirates Thursday was cancelled due to the Arab country’s reluctance in involving in Election affairs of Israel.
Hayom newspaper announced “the prime minister’s office has resumed contacts with representatives of the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, to coordinate Netanyahu’s visit. According to the current plan, which has not been finally approved, the visit will take place on Thursday.”
This visit takes place less than a week before Israel’s general elections, in which Netanyahu’s political future will be decided amid fierce competition between rival parties.
As part of a US-brokered agreement, Israel established formal relations with the UAE and Bahrain in September 2020, a move that was quickly followed by Sudan and Morocco.
“We postponed the visit… twice because of (coronavirus) lockdowns,” Netanyahu said in his Twitter page in response to a question about whether he will visit UAE amid Israel’s health crisis. He also added that, it is of great national and international security significance, that it has been reduced from three days to three hours at his request. He also has previously said his trip to Abu Dhabi would also “possibly make a lightning visit to Bahrain”.
However, the former Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash said on Wednesday the United Arab Emirates “will not be a part of any internal electioneering in Israel, now or ever,” putting the brakes on news of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s impending visit.
It is not the first time that Netanyahu plans to visit United Arab Emirates. He tried it for several times, but unfortunately it has been canceled each time.
The travel to the UAE had been scheduled for months but had been delayed many times, most recently in February. Netanyahu had intended to travel in November, December, January, and February, but the pandemic, logistics problems, and domestic political crises forced him to cancel several times.
Netanyahu’s official visit to the United Arab Emirates was postponed last week due to problems arranging his flight’s passage across Jordanian airspace. After the signing of a US-sponsored agreement to normalize their ties in September, Netanyahu has repeatedly postponed his visit to the UAE.
His last trip was suspended, because Jordan refused to approve the prime minister’s flight over the country to the Gulf state. This was apparently in response for the Jordanian crown prince’s abandoned trip to the Temple Mount on Wednesday, which he canceled due to a disagreement with Israel over entry permits for his security detail, according to the PMO.
Netanyahu’s visit “was postponed due to difficulties in coordinating his flight in Jordanian airspace. These difficulties apparently stemmed from the cancellation of the Jordanian Crown Prince’s visit to the Temple Mount due to a disagreement over security procedures at the site,” the PMO said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
Netanyahu has been said to be ready to travel ahead of the March 23 elections. According to polls, Netanyahu is fighting to secure the 61-seat Knesset majority needed to form an alliance, even though his opponents have no definite path to control, and the timing of the trip could have aided Netanyahu’s campaign. The trip was promoted as both a celebration of Israel’s normalization agreements and a bid to bolster Netanyahu’s diplomatic credentials ahead of the votes. Netanyahu may have hoped to use the visit to strengthen his opposition to a US return to the Iran nuclear agreement.