Jerusalem violence threatens Israel-Emirates relations

UAE reprimands Israel envoy over Temple Mount clashes, Emirati airline cancels Independence Day flyover.

By Sharon Wrobel, The Algemeiner

Israeli Ambassador Amir Hayek was summoned by the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday to hear the Gulf state’s condemnation over the recent violence around Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and in the Old City.

UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy conveyed to Hayek the country’s “strong protest and denunciation” of the clashes around Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, including what she cast as attacks on Palestinian civilians and incursions into holy places.

Al Hashimy “stressed the need to immediately stop these events, provide full protection for worshipers, respect the right of Palestinians to practice their religious rites, and halt any practices that violate the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque,” according to a statement released by her office.

Al Hashimy also raised “concern over the escalation of tension that threatens stability and security in the region.”

Israel earlier emphasized its “responsible and measured” efforts to contain riots on the Temple Mount while protecting access to the site and decried the spread of disinformation fueling tensions in Jerusalem.

Hayek took up his post as Israel’s first ambassador to the UAE about six months ago, after the countries normalized relations in 2020 under the U.S.-backed Abraham Accords.

The reprimand followed days of violent clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian rioters around the Temple Mount. On Monday, Jordan, which has a custodial role over the site, also condemned Israel’s actions and summoned its envoy in the kingdom, Deputy Ambassador Sami Abu Janeb to call for the halt of “illegal and provocative measures.”

In a phone conversation with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog rebuffed claims coming from much of the Arab world, explaining that contrary to “false reports,” Israel is maintaining the holy site’s status quo and protecting freedom of worship, as Israeli security forces work to ensure such freedom “despite provocations.”

Following the announcement of Hayek’s summoning, the Israel Air Line Pilots Association was informed that Emirati low-cost Wizz Air Abu Dhabi decided to cancel its participation in an Israeli Independence Day flyover event scheduled for May 5.

Emirati planes were expected for the first time to fly side-by-side Israeli airlines — El Al, Israir, and Arkia — as part of a civilian flyover at the initiative of the Israeli Pilots Association, to convey the stability of Israeli aviation after the pandemic.