Wednesday, October 17, 2018
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'Israel, UAE in close covert ties since 1990s'


For more than two decades, Israel has maintained a clandestine but extremely close relationship with the UAE, which has focused heavily on intelligence sharing and security cooperation, including potential arms deals, the New Yorker magazine has reported.
The New Yorker expose revealed what it indicated was a deep and longstanding Israeli relationship with the UAE, which started when Yitzhak Rabin was prime minister in the mid-1990s, according to timesofisrael.com.
"The secret relationship between Israel and the UAE can be traced back to a series of meetings in a nondescript office in Washington, DC, after the signing of the Oslo Accords," the article, which was posted online on Monday and will appear in the New Yorker print edition next week, states.
The ties started when the UAE sought to buy F-16 fighter jets from the US during Bill Clinton's first term in the White House, according to the piece, which also deals with many other aspects of US-Israel ties.
US and Emirati officials were worried about Israeli protests over the arms sale, but rather than veto the deal, Jeremy Issacharoff ” now Israel's ambassador to Germany, but then an Israeli diplomat working out of the DC embassy in Washington ” asked for an"opportunity to discuss the matter directly with the Emiratis, to find out how they intended to use the American aircraft," the paper's staff writer Adam Entous cites former US officials as saying.
A government-backed think-tank in Abu Dhabi ” the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research ” then"became a conduit for contacts with Israel," the magazine claims.
In 1994, Issacharoff met with Emirati officials in a private office,"off the record, unofficially," according to the article."Israeli and Emirati officials didn't agree on the Palestinian issue, but they shared a perspective on the emerging Iranian threat, which was becoming a bigger priority for leaders in both countries."
Rabin later told the White House that Israel did not object to the F-16 sale, a position which helped"build a sense of trust between Israel and the UAE," the New Yorker cites former US officials as saying. "They assumed that he was telling them what he thought they wanted to hear, but the official said that for Emirati leaders, 'it's the old adage: the enemy of my enemy is my friend,'" according to the magazine.
Hoping for the eventual normalisation of ties, Israel developed an"intelligence-sharing relationship" with the UAE, which, years later, led to a joint appeal to then US President Barack Obama to take the Iranian threat more seriously.
In early 2009, a senior Emirati dignitary and Israel's then-ambassador to the US Sallai Meridor met with Dennis Ross, who at the time advised Obama on Middle East affairs, in a Washington hotel room, hoping that if Israelis and Arabs together made the case against Tehran, it would be taken more seriously by the administration, the New Yorker reports.

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