Israeli violence prompted uncomfortable Israel-UAE conversations
The deputy mayor of Jerusalem said that last month’s Israeli aggression in Palestine prompted “uncomfortable conversations” between business partners in Israel and the United Arab Emirates, just months after the two countries normalised relations.
However, the discussions were “open” and “everyone was really moderate and understanding,” according to Fleur Hassan-Nahoum.
Hassan-Nahoum, co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council, expressed hope that trade between the two nations would surpass the billion-dollar mark in the following year while speaking on the sidelines of a bilateral investment conference in Dubai.
The United Arab Emirates became only the third Arab country to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020, as part of a pact sponsored by the United States and denounced by Palestinians.
Since then, the two countries have announced a slew of agreements on investment, business collaboration, and visa-free travel.
However, riots in Jerusalem precipitated an 11-day flare-up last month, during which Israeli warplanes pounded the Gaza Strip and Palestinian terrorists fired thousands of rockets into Israel in retaliation.
The environment between Israeli business leaders and their UAE counterparts, according to Hassan-Nahoum, was “not easy.”
“I’m involved in a number of different forums of Israelis and Emiratis, and there have been some difficult conversations, but it’s vital that we have those dialogues,” she explained.
She went on to say, “We had really open discussion on areas of disagreement […] people had a lot of questions regarding the (Israeli) military campaign,” which included air and mortar raids on Gaza.
‘Proportionality’ is a term used to describe how something should be distributed.
Hassan-Nahoum explained, “We are absolutely in the beginning of our relationship […] one of the most crucial aspects about having a long-lasting relationship is to create trust.”
“I believe it takes time after so many years of not having this friendship.”
The main queries focused on Israel’s “proportionality” in responding to Gaza rocket attacks, as well as “regarding Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem and what transpired in the Al-Aqsa mosque,” she said.
Following Israeli forces’ repeated attacks on Palestinian pilgrims in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Hamas began launching volleys of rockets into Israel, igniting the Gaza War.
It also came after weeks of riots in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood between Israeli police and Palestinian protestors over the forcible eviction of Palestinians from their houses in favour of Jewish settlers.
According to the Gaza health ministry, Israeli strikes on Gaza killed 260 Palestinians, including 66 children, and injured nearly 1,900 others.
According to medics and the military, 13 individuals have been killed in Israel as a result of rockets and other fire from Gaza, including a child and an Arab-Israeli adolescent, an Israeli soldier, one Indian, and two Thai nationals. In Israel, 357 individuals were injured.
So far, a cease-fire brokered by Egypt has lasted.
The clash put a halt to months of warming relations, forcing the UAE to publicly condemn Israel’s conduct and some Emirati social media users to call for a boycott.
On Twitter, famous business lawyer Habib al-Mulla denounced Israeli “provocations,” saying, “Israel lost the public relations campaign it put out […] to promote its image and obtain acceptability.”
‘We’ll get there eventually,’ says the narrator.
Hassan-Nahoum, on the other hand, vowed to continue with connections that had already resulted in trade worth “approximately half a billion dollars so far.”
“It was around 300 million a few months ago, and I think there has been a huge push in the last few months,” she added, adding that the amount “would have been considerably higher” if the Covid-19 outbreak had not occurred.
“I believe it would have been in the billion-dollar range by now,” she continued, “but we will get there, inshallah, next year.”
The trade show, which took place this week, aimed to pave the way for collaboration agreements in the domains of health, renewable energy, and technology.
A request for reaction from UAE officials was not immediately returned.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed on a bilateral tax deal last week, indicating that the business relationship is still on track.
However, Israeli Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-trip Hacohen’s to Dubai to attend a travel industry summit in mid-May has been cancelled.
Following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, the UAE became the third Arab country to normalise relations with Israel. Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan are among the countries that have followed suit since then.
The Abraham Accords wiped away decades of agreement that no connections with Israel should be established until it makes peace with the Palestinians.
The normalisation agreements have been branded a “knife in the back” by Palestinians.
Following the unrest last month, Israel’s new Arab friends loudly chastised Israel’s actions.
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