Israeli and Emirates envoys share table, chat at pro-Israel event

Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and his United Arab Emirates counterpart were seen chatting at a public pro-Israel event in Washington, where they were seated at the same table.

By World Israel News Staff
AP contributed to this report.

In a sign of the warming ties between Israel and some of the Arab Gulf states, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer shared a table on Wednesday at a public event in Washington with his counterpart from the United Arab Emirates, Ha’aretz reported.

Dermer and UAE Ambassador Yousef al Otaiba were seen sitting together and conversing at a dinner hosted by the pro-Israel Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), where U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the guest speaker.

Egyptian Ambassador to Washington Yasser Reda was seated at the same table, Ha’aretz noted.

In another rare instance of “dinner diplomacy,” last March, at Cafe Milano, the upscale Georgetown restaurant often frequented by powerful Washingtonians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in town for an annual pro-Israel policy conference, was midway through dinner with his wife Sara when “an unexpected request came his way.”

By coincidence, “Otaiba was at the restaurant hosting Brian Hook, the State Department’s policy planning chief, and a group of U.S. journalists, along with Bahrain’s ambassador, Sheikh Abdullah bin Rashed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa.

“The Americans dining with Otaiba got wind that Netanyahu was nearby. Word was sent to see if the Israeli leader would mind making an appearance at their dinner. It wasn’t long before the Netanyahus dropped by to say hello on their way out. 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.

Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have official diplomatic relations, although they reportedly have broad, behind-the-scenes diplomatic and intelligence cooperation due to their common regional enemy, Iran. The Iranian threat has apparently pushed Saudi Arabia to seek secret cooperation with the only power in the region with the capability and willpower to stop Iran’s aggression: Israel.

Indeed, addressing the U.N. General Assembly in New York last month, Netanyahu exposed a “secret atomic warehouse” outside Tehran and told the world:

“This may surprise you but I have to admit that the Iran deal has had one positive consequence, an unintended one but a positive consequence– by empowering Iran, it brought Israel and many Arab states closer together than ever before in an intimacy and friendship that I have not seen in my lifetime and would have been unimagineable a few years ago.”