No Jerusalem for UAE: Embassy in Tel Aviv with Haifa, Nazareth eyed for consulate

Nazareth is the Emirates’ first choice, with Haifa being another possibility due to its more strategic location, the paper said.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

While the establishment of their embassy in Tel Aviv is a given, the UAE is also considering opening a consulate in the northern part of Israel to be closer to the center of Israeli Arab life in the country, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday.

Nazareth is the Emirates’ first choice, with Haifa being another possibility due to its more strategic location, the paper said.

“Although we are signing a peace agreement with the Jewish state, the actual peace is being made with all Israelis,” said a senior Emirati official in the Foreign Ministry to the daily. “It’s very important to us to be accessible to the Israeli Arab population in Israel, whom we see as an important and central partner in a warm peace accord.”

The consulate would act as an education center to teach their Arab cousins all about the UAE, he added.

“Based on various studies conducted through questionnaires and the data we have collected, it became clear to us that there are information gaps among Palestinian Arabs in Israel regarding the history of the United Arab Emirates and its role in the pan-Arab fabric,” he said. A consulate would “engage in activities in the fields of Emirati culture, regional history, language and linguistics, and more.”

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While Egypt has a consulate in Eilat as the closest city to its border with Israel, this would be the first Arab diplomatic branch in the north dedicated to developing ties with their fellow co-religionists in the Jewish state.

The UAE says the establishment of its physical presence in Israel is something that can be done quickly. The official gave a timeline of three-to-five months before Israelis will be able to get their visas to the Gulf state at the embassy.

Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Alon Ushpiz confirmed from Abu Dhabi that the Emiratis are pushing out all the stops.

“In my meeting with UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash, as in the meetings here inside the room, what keeps being repeated is that ‘we want to wrap this up quickly,'” he told public broadcaster Kan on Tuesday.

Tourism was one of the major topics discussed on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi between Israeli and Emirati officials, after the historic first flight from Tel Aviv landed in the Arab capital for day-long meetings to hammer out details of the normalization accord that had been announced last month.

Other talks centered on finance, health, space, science and commerce.