Israel appoints first diplomat to the UAE ahead of embassy opening

Eitan Na'eh, Israel's ambassador to Turkey (Ocak Medya)

Middle East Monitor  /  January 5, 2021

Israel has appointed its former ambassador to Turkey, Eitan Na’eh, as the country’s top diplomat in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in preparation for the establishment of a permanent embassy, the Kan public broadcaster reported today.

Na’eh will become the first Israeli to have full diplomatic status in the Gulf state following the normalisation of ties with Israel last year.

The UAE and Israel agreed to establish full diplomatic, cultural and commercial relations following the signing of controversial agreements on 15 September at the White House.

According to Kan news, Na’eh will serve as an acting envoy until a permanent ambassador is chosen.

This comes a month after Israel’s foreign ministry announced plans to establish its embassy and consulate in the UAE by the first week of this year.

“We are hoping to have the inauguration [of the embassy] by the end December or the first week of January 2021. We will have the embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General will be in Dubai,” an Israeli ministry spokesperson told the Khaleej Times.

Na’eh previously served as ambassador to Turkey from 2016 until he was ordered to leave by Ankara after Israeli occupation forces used brute force to disperse unarmed Palestinian protesters who had gathered at the Gaza-Israel fence in opposition of the US’ decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem in 2018.

However, last month, Turkey appointed a new ambassador to Israel for the first time in over two years, Al-Monitor reported.

Ufuk Ulutas, chair of the Centre for Strategic Research at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, studied Hebrew and Middle Eastern politics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and is described as “very polished”, “very clever” and “very pro-Palestinian” by sources familiar with him.

Reports claim Ankara’s decision to appoint an envoy is a step towards improving relations with the US as President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

The UAE, BahrainSudan and Morocco were the first Arab nations to establish relations with the occupation state of Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

The Palestinian leadership condemned the establishment of ties with the occupation as a “treacherous stab to the Palestinian cause”.