Israeli delegation is secretly operating in Dubai.
TEL AVIV, 4 Sept. (HAARETZ) One day after the “historic” meeting of Pakistani and Israeli foreign affairs ministers in Istanbul, it was learnt that Israel has opened a diplomatic mission in the Persian Gulf sheikhdom of United Arab Emirates, based in Dubai, home also to hundreds of wealthy and creative Iranians with a total investment estimated at more than 30 billion US dollars.
The talks held in Istanbul between would “certainly” encourage Afghanistan and some other nations in central and south east Asia like Malaysia and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation to follow.
[Four days after the Istanbul meeting, the authorities in Tehran condemned the move, saying Pakistan must pay attention to sensitivities of the Muslim and Arab worlds to the question of the “Zionist regime” (Israel).
Speaking to reporters during his weekly press briefing, Hamid Reza Asefi, the senior Spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry said the meeting “astonished us, since Pakistan used to have good position towards the Palestinian people and their cause”.
“This action (the Shalom-Kasuri meeting) has no justification and the Pakistani should be more attentive to the conditions of the Arab and Muslim worlds, as the meeting between officials from Pakistan and the Zionist regime has created great concerns, not only with us but also in the international community”, he said].
The event that many Iranian analysts described as an example of “realpolitik, statesmanship and courage” that should serve as a lesson to the ruling Iranian ayatollahs who have sacrificed the interests of Iran and the Iranians on the altar of a foolish ideology, a policy based on the annihilation of Israel and catholic more than the Pope in “palestinising” the foreign policy of the regime was a severe blow for the diplomacy of Tehran.
According to political pundits, the talks held in Istanbul between Silvan Shalom and Khorsheed Mahmoud Kasuri would “certainly” encourage Afghanistan and some other nations in central and south east Asia like Malaysia and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation to follow.
Quoting Iranian analysts, the Hong Kong-based internet newspaper The Asia Times Online said what worries most the Iranians is the possibility of Pakistan handing the Israelis full extent of cooperation Abdul Ghadir Khan, known as the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, provided Tehran and nuclear-related materials he sold them secretly.
The opening of the Israeli diplomatic mission in Dubai several weeks ago was the culmination of a series of elaborate contacts Israel has been developing with the United Arab Emirates for years. By using secret diplomacy, the Foreign Ministry has succeeded in adding the Emirates to the list of Arab countries that have diplomatic ties with Israel. But how does one establish a foreign mission in a country that refuses to make its relations with Israel public?
The answer is simple. The Israeli diplomats serving at the mission in Dubai are undercover as foreign businessmen. Three diplomats, and their families, were chosen because they hold passports from other countries besides Israel. In the past few months they have arrived in Dubai, the most important commercial center in the Emirates, with the complete approval of the authorities. Their activities have been kept very secret and they are trying to carry out minimal activities while keeping a low profile.
Their mere presence in Dubai is a huge achievement for Israel, even if it can't be advertised. It represents an important step in the Foreign Ministry's efforts to develop ties with Muslim and Arab countries, which yielded results in Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri last week.
The Israeli delegation was established in this secretive form because the Emirates do not want to pay a high price to the Islamic and nationalist opposition.
Israeli businessmen say they can now enter the country on their Israeli passports, after advance coordination with their hosts.
Many Israelis dream of conducting business in the Persian Gulf. "These can be the real dividends of peace in the Middle East. The Israeli economy would feel the economic cooperation with the Emirates much more than the existing cooperation with Jordan", says Meir Javedanfar of Meepas, a company based in London and Tel Aviv that specializes in political and economic analysis of the Middle East. Javedanfar has already prepared an economic analysis of the Emirates for his Israeli clients.
The Israeli delegation was established in this secretive form because the Emirates do not want to pay a high price to the Islamic and nationalist opposition, which opposes normalization of relations with Israel. However, it is well known that for several years Israeli companies, some of them very large, have been active in the country, and this is bound to grow in wake of the newly established ties.
"There's a general feeling that they want to normalize, but they can't be the first ones. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the first thing on their minds, as we tend to think. They live happy and secure lives", said a business women who visited in the past months.
Sources in the Emirates minimized the importance of reports in the Israeli press about the establishment of a mission, but did not deny it.
"These are not new reports. The Israeli press has discussed this several times before", the sources said to the London based “Asharq Al-Awsat” Arabic daily, adding that the reports damage the Emirates and its commitment to the decision of the Arab League, which links normalization with Israel to recognition of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
While Israel has had links with Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, it has never had contacts with the UAE. However in Abu Dhabi, an Emirati source knocked down the story as "Israeli propaganda". ENDS ISRAEL UAE 4905
Editor’s note: The above article was published by the independent Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on it 4 September issue.
Highlights and some editing are by IPS
An IPS correspondent contributed to this article.