Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz postponed his visit to Dubai this month over security concerns amid heightened tension in the Middle East following the US strike on Iranian Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani, Channel 12 News reported on Saturday night.
Katz’s visit to Dubai, scheduled for mid-January, was to take place on the background of Israel’s scheduled participation in the Expo 2020 in Dubai and was to be the first official visit of an Israeli foreign minister in the United Arab Emirates in twenty years. As part of the visit, Katz was planning on promoting non-belligerence agreements with the Gulf States, an initiative first proposed by Katz and being pushed by the Trump administration.
An Axios report in December said that the US is pushing Gulf states to reach non-belligerence agreements with Israel to fulfill one of Trump’s main goals in the Middle East – normalizing ties between Israel and the Gulf states. US deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates, met with the ambassadors of the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Morocco in Washington in late November to promote the initiative.
Channel 12 News also reported that Israeli officials believe that the recent conflict between Iran and the US may be an opportunity to deepen Israel’s relationships with the Gulf states over their shared opposition to Iran.
Expo 2020 in Dubai, the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, begins on October 20, 2020. World Expos are organized every five years and last for six months. The last World Expo took place in Milan in 2015.
The UAE was elected as the host country of World Expo 2020 during the 154th General Assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) in 2013 by a majority of 116 votes of its nation members out of 164, leaving behind the contestant city of Yekaterinburg, Russia in the dust.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)