Dubai billionaire urges Arabs to get cozy with Israel

Dubai-based billionaire Khalaf Al Habtoor called on Arabs to “deal with” Israel, in a piece published by Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz this week.

Al Habtoor is one of the richest people in the United Arab Emirates. He is the founder of Al Habtoor Group, a conglomerate that built Dubai International Airport and several high-rises in the city, as well as being a dealer in luxury cars.

In his piece, Al Habtoor writes that Israelis will receive “untold benefits” if Palestinians are granted their equal rights under one state, including “inflows of investments from the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and other Arab countries to boost Israel’s economy” and an exchange of “security and intelligence cooperation,” especially on Iran.

While Al Habtoor recognizes the reality of the one-state solution as the only viable option for peace, he does not express a commitment to hold Israel accountable for its atrocities.

Instead, he calls on Palestinians and neighboring countries to “put a lid” on their “emotional baggage and bad experience” in order to move forward because “Israel with its nuclear weapons and military might is going nowhere.”

Covert normalization

Al Habtoor’s piece comes amid a wave of covert diplomatic normalization between several Gulf states and Israel. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar have all been involved in such normalization, even though there are no formal diplomatic relations between these countries and Israel.

In May, teams from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain openly took part in the Giro d’Italia race that started in Jerusalem, ignoring calls from Palestinian civil society to boycott the event.

Al Habtoor took to Twitter in March to say that “as Arabs, we should not be against Israeli youth participating in sports events with us,” in clear violation of the international picket line to boycott Israel until it is held accountable for it atrocities.

Secret meeting

Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Emirates ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and Bahrain ambassador Abdullah bin Rashed Al Khalifa in Washington during March, the Associated Press has reported.

Al Otaiba and Al Khalifa were hosting US senior policy adviser Brian Hook and a number of journalists at the luxurious Cafe Milano in the US capital. Netanyahu and his wife Sara were in Washington for the AIPAC conference – an annual gathering of the pro-Israel lobby – and were stopping at the restaurant for dinner.

When Al Otaiba was made aware of Netanyahu’s presence in the restaurant, he sent out a request for him and his wife to join the dinner table, which “first passed through the restaurant’s owner, then one of the journalists, who had walked by Netanyahu’s table while on the way to the restroom,” according to AP.

Netanyahu and his wife “came over to say hello on their way out,” AP reported.

“They lingered, answering a few questions from the group about Iran and other issues. There were smiles, a few laughs about the oddity of the situation, and Netanyahu shook hands with the two ambassadors before leaving the restaurant.”

The AP was notified by six individuals who either attended the dinner or were briefed on it, but did not disclose who as “the dinner’s ground rules were that it be considered off the record.”

Iran at the core

Meanwhile, Bahrain’s foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa tweeted recently that “as long as Iran breaches the status quo in the region and evacuates its troops and missiles, any state in the region, including Israel, has the right to defend itself by destroying sources of danger.”

This happened after President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and Israel attacked Iranian bases in Syria.

A recent headline in the newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat speaks to the core of the foreign minister’s remarks, and the core of this growing trend of normalization between Arab states and Israel: a mutual enmity towards Iran.

Moreover, normalization trends are extending beyond covert meetings between state officials.

On Thursday, former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, former US ambassador to Bahrain and current lobbyist for Qatar Adam Ereli, and the Saudi founder of the Arabia Foundation, Ali Shihabi, were seen having lunch together in Washington.

Israel-Jordan gas deal

Israel will start pumping natural gas to Jordan by the beginning of 2020, Jordan’s energy minister Saleh Kharabsheh told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed. The gas pipelines and other project procedures are being finalized.

The state-owned National Jordanian Electric Power Company (NEPCO) has signed a $15 billion agreement to buy natural gas from Israel over a 15-year period. The deal is set to proceed despite strong internal opposition from the public and the Jordanian parliament.

In less than two years, the gas will be extracted from the Israeli-controlled Leviathan gas fields situated in the eastern Mediterranean. The extraction project is being led by the US giant Noble Energy.

The Israeli government is set to make $8.4 billion from the deal.

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Comments

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Not my comment, from the /r/islam sub on Reddit (https://old.reddit.com/r/islam...):

It's a sad and defeatist reality, but a reality nonetheless. Arab nations can not muster the motivation or the capability to militarily oppose Israel and her western allies. The thing they can do for Palestinians' benefit is offer Israel diplomacy in return for concessions for Palestine.

Muslim world is weak: militarily, economically, technologically. Until we raise our standard to the point where we can actually survive and persevere in conflicts, engaging in any conflict means ending up worse off than before. The face of warfare has changed drastically, wars are driven and won by logistical and scientific prowess. The front line soldier spends barely 5% of his time in combat situation, and even less in actual fighting. This means powerful industrial base, national reserves of raw material, energy independency, agricultural surplus, robust rail/road/comms network, and above all leading emerging technologies sector.

These are things that take up to a generation to accomplish - if focused on. These are things the Muslim world should work on mastering, or we'd be continuously reduced to groveling at our adversaries' feet for mercy and clemency rather than fighting for what is rightfully ours.

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"As Jews, we should not be against Nazi youth participating in sports events with us. We want peace and we must promote it, rather than objecting to it. #Germany is a country with which we need to learn to coexist, that is a fact. Put a lid on our baggage and our emotional baggage over a bad experience."

Sounds eerily another factual "bad experience" that Zionists will never ever get over their "emotional baggage" over a "bad experience". Khalaf Al Habtoor words could be an actual replay of War World II.

Does Al Habtoor actually read his words or does all he sees is ... money?

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As horrible as it is it's the lesser of two great evils to choose from. Arab nations are thoroughly militarily outclassed by Israel, as has been demonstrated in 1948, 1967 and 1973, and in those wars Israel did not have the technological edge it has now, nor the unconditional support of the world's only superpower. Recognising Israel in return for better treatment of the Palestinians and making changes in Israeli society in favour of a one-state solution, coexistence with Palestinians, and the recognising of atrocities commited is the only way forward.

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israel was almost defeated in 1973. They only won because Israel doesn’t have to worry about abiding by the rules of warfare or international law. And, they’ve always had and always will have the support of the Usa. And Israeli society will never change, recognize their atrocities or attempt or want to c0exist.

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This is pure Zionism which has become a terrorism and it has spread all over the world. To end the suffering of Palestinians, there are many other ways to compromise rather than getting cozy with the apartheid state. Their killing machine continue to murder while the world is watching the massacre, land theft and genocide. How many more Palestinians need to be killed and how many will be too many the Arab dummies to realize that Israel is an enemy not a friend.

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Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.