Israel and the United Arab Emirates started the normalization process about two years ago. The two countries established direct flights months ago following long months of negotiations.
A new dispute on aviation security has put the mutual relationship between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi on stake. The former has renewed a security agreement with Dubai. The move aims to allow Israeli flights to continue to the Emirati destinations till resolution of disagreement over aviation safety.
Israel cautioned that unless the ratification of matter realizes, there might be a crisis with the new ally in weeks. Shin Bet expressed worries about the security procedures at Dubai International Airport, but avoid from going into details. It stated that if the issues remain unhandled, the carriers will cease operations in UAE.
“Over the past few months, security disputes have emerged between the competent bodies in Dubai and the Israeli aviation security system, in a way that does not allow for the responsible enactment of security for Israeli aviation,” the Israeli security agency asserted in a statement.
The present agreements between the UAE and Israel on aviation section were set to expire yesterday. However, according to a senior source, Israeli Transport Minister has delayed the deadline for approximately a month to allow for the talks to progress.
Three airlines, including El Al, Israir, and Arkia started direct flights between the two counties months after normalization. UAE and Israel normalized their ties as part of the Abraham accords in 2020.
While hundreds of Israelis were able to visit UAE during the Dubai expo, multiple security concerns have affected both sides. It indicates the ongoing rifts Between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv despite normalization of ties.
From Aviation Security to National Security
Israel pressed the UAE to resolve security issues in conjunction with the deadline extension. If flights to Dubai cease in coming weeks, there will be a termination to their business in Abu Dhabi, prompting a bilateral boycott.
Cessation of El Al flights to UAE would have other significant consequences. A high-ranks Israeli official, in words having a threatening undertone, said Emirati firms won’t be able to land in Israel then.
Flydubai runs direct flights between Dubai and Israeli capital, while Emirates has been considering launching services to Tel Aviv. Etihad Airways and Wizz Air manage the flights between the two capitals.
“The crisis could be regional, not just bilateral. It could have a huge impact,” the Israeli official said. His reference is to the pivotal role of UAE in Abraham accords which includes three other Arab states.
One of the first pledges at the time of signing the accords was a 28-flight per week schedule between the two sides. Current challenge with Dubai might lead to the surfacing of much deeper discrepancies between the two sides. Besides, there would be no alternative for Dubai, considering the city’s central role in regional and trans-regional aviation.
Israeli officials might consider Abu Dhabi, the capital, as a security/political alternative, but not a commercial replacement for Dubai. Any further escalation of disputes over aviation security might lead to deep political rifts damaging the two-year attempts.
UAE-Israel ties has always been fertile for crisis due to serious ideological and security incongruences. The first and foremost opposers of normalization of ties with Israel were Emirati people in the past two years. Considering it as a betrayal to their Arab brothers in Palestine, UAE people remained silent under heavy media propaganda. The new security issue might prove a lighter.