A report says a senior UAE official secretly visited Israel last August amid deepening rapprochement between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv.
The chairman and CEO of the Dubai-based DP World, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, visited Tel Aviv with the aim of strengthening trade ties between DP World and Israel, according to a government source quoted by the Arabi21 website. DP World is owned by the government of Dubai in the UAE.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Emirati official’s meetings with senior Israeli figures, including the Israeli customs chief, were all arranged by the chief economist at the American multinational investment bank.
The trip comes months after the Israeli media reported a visit by an Emirati military delegation to the occupied Palestinian territories for talks with the regime’s air force on the “performance” of advanced US-made F-35 stealth fighter jets.
An Israeli journalist claims in a tweet that a UAE aircraft joined the recent wave of Israeli air raids against the besieged Gaza Strip.
The UAE — along with other Persian Gulf states — has no formal ties with the Israeli regime and portrays itself as a staunch defender of Palestinian struggles against Israel’s occupation.
Abu Dhabi usually criticizes deadly Israel’s violence in Gaza and donates funds to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Palestinian territory. However, the UAE and Israel are widely reported to have promoted their clandestine and backchannel cooperation over the past years.
In June, the New Yorker magazine reported that Israel had maintained a secret but extremely close relationship with the UAE for more than two decades, with a special focus on intelligence sharing and military cooperation, including potential weapons deals.