Israel’s new government is pushing ahead with normalization of relations with Arab regimes.
It’s a sign that the cozy informal relations between Riyadh and Tel Aviv persist in spite of Israel’s attack on Gaza last month.Lapid – also the alternate to Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett – inaugurated the new Israeli embassy in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.
Despite Gaza massacre
Emirati foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan bid a warm farewell to his “friend” Gabi Ashkenazi – his opposite number in the former Israeli government.
“Hey Gabi, thank you for being a wonderful partner,” bin Zayed said in a video.
“I look forward for being friends for many years to come. God bless you and bless your wonderful family.”
Ashkenazi was Israel’s army chief during its 2008-2009 attack on Gaza, which killed about 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more than 300 children.
During a conversation with a major Israel lobby group earlier this month, the Emirati foreign minister suggested that certain countries do not go far enough in their condemnation of Hamas – the group that led May’s military resistance against Israel’s brutal assault on Palestinians in Jerusalem and Gaza.
“It’s very unfortunate that countries are more reluctant to talk about groups like Hizballah or Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood in a clearer manner,” he said in a virtual panel with the American Jewish Committee, an Israel lobby group that opened an office in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.
“It’s been funny when countries designate the same entity, its military wing as a terrorist group and its political wing as a non-terrorist group and then that same entity says there is no difference between our military and political wing.”
This conversation came weeks after Israel killed some 245 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including nearly 60 children, which Bin Zayed did not condemn once during the talk.
It was only seven years ago that Bin Zayed was correctly proclaiming that “Israel kills children” and suggesting that suspected Israeli war criminals be tried by the International Criminal Court.
The UAE’s support for Israel goes far beyond mere lip service and extends to helping break international solidarity with Palestinians.
Earlier this month, Dubai Ports World temporarily suspended 94 workers at the Canadian port of Prince Rupert, where it operates a terminal.
This was in retaliation for the workers respecting a Block The Boat picket line, urging them not to handle an Israeli ship.
Dubai Ports World is owned by the Dubai government.
This comes as Israel and the UAE work to boost each other’s economies – something that will provide Israel with more resources to colonize Palestinian land.
Around 200,000 Israeli tourists have visited the United Arab Emirates since the normalization agreement was signed.Hundreds of millions of dollars of deals were signed between the two countries, including agreements to sell Israeli settlement goods in the UAE.
Last month, an Emirati delegation visited Modiin, an Israeli settlement built on the ruins of Palestinian towns ethnically cleansed in 1948. Part of the settlement also extends into the occupied West Bank.
Ethnic cleansing persists
UAE foreign minister Bin Zayed also congratulated Israel on making “the right decision” by supposedly not moving forward with formal annexation of land in the occupied West Bank – which the UAE tried to spin as an achievement for Palestinians resulting from its deal with Israel.
In reality, it was the US that froze Israel’s annexation plans.
The annexation spin was nothing more than public relations messaging allowing the UAE to claim its embrace of Israel helped the Palestinians when it did the opposite.
Despite shelving its formal annexation plans, Israel has continued with the de facto theft and colonization of Palestinian land.
Palestinians have been resisting a new Israeli colonial outpost built on land belonging to the Nablus-area villages of Qabalan, Yatma and Beita.
Israeli forces are also carrying out a campaign to demolish Palestinian homes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
Ali Abunimah contributed reporting.