Middle East

Israel 'to open UAE diplomatic mission'

Dubai skyline
Image caption The UAE has no official diplomatic relations with Israel

Israel is to open its first diplomatic mission in the UAE, Israel says, despite the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Israel's foreign ministry says its office will be part of an international energy organisation based in Abu Dhabi.

Israel has opened trade and other offices in some Gulf states before, but there are no official ties.

The UAE, like most other Arab states, has not recognised Israel since the Arab-Israeli conflict began in 1948.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon confirmed a report in Haaretz newspaper and said the mission will be accredited to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), of which Israel is a member.

According to Haaretz, the foreign ministry's director general Dore Gold visited Abu Dhabi on Tuesday to finalise the plans.

It is not known when the mission will open.

The UAE, a federation of seven emirates, has not commented on the reports.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin paid an unprecedented visit to Oman in 1994

The Gulf state generally bars Israeli passport holders from visiting the country, although Israeli sportspeople have participated in international events there.

Israel has previously operated trade offices in the Gulf countries of Oman and Qatar, opened in 1996 during visits by then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin also visited Oman in 1994.

However, Oman closed the Israeli mission in 2000 in the wake of the second Palestinian intifada (uprising) and Qatar ordered the office to shut in protest at Israel's 2008-09 war in Gaza.

Israel and the Sunni Gulf States have recently found a convergence of interests over Shia Iran, which both sides see as a growing threat.

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