TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - In a Friday report, Israeli daily Haaretz cited two informed Western diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying that bin Zayed agreed to the meeting after a long period during which Netanyahu sent messages to senior UAE officials through intermediaries.
The meeting was held at Netanyahu’s hotel room in the Loews Regency Hotel on the corner of East 61st Street and Park Avenue in New York during the United Nations General Assembly meeting on September 28, 2012.
According to the two diplomats, who received the reports of the meeting, Netanyahu and bin Zayed mainly discussed the Iranian nuclear issue. The UAE foreign minister also told Bibi that his country could not start relations with Israel unless there is progress in the so-called peace process with the Palestinians.
A day earlier, Netanyahu had delivered a speech at the UN General Assembly in which he repeated the allegations that Iran’s nuclear energy activities has a military dimension and called for preventing Tehran from possessing nuclear know-how.
The UAE ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, accompanied bin Zayed to the meeting. The two Arab diplomats reportedly entered the hotel very discretely through an elevator at the underground parking lot.
Israels then-security advisor, Yaakov Amidror, and the prime minister’s military secretary, Major General Johanan Locker accompanied Netanyahu during the meeting.
The meeting was described as “friendly” during which Bin Zayed expressed his appreciation for Netanyahu’s speech to the General Assembly. The two sides also agreed on a wide range of issues regarding the Iranian nuclear issue.
Bin Zayed also expressed the UAE’s willingness to improve relations with Israel, but noted that the Arab monarchy cannot do that publicly, unless there is progress in Israel’s so-called peace process with the Palestinians.
Bin Zayed repeated the same position in a lunch meeting with former Israeli Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni in New York in September 2016.
During the meal, in which Livni was invited as a guest of honor, bin Zayed noted that Persian Gulf Arab states wanted improved ties with Israel, but that cannot be achieved until Israel shows true desire toward a so-called two-state solution with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu has also tried to arrange meetings with senior officials from other Persian Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, since reentering office in 2009.
Over the past five years, Netanyahu has been trying to organize a meeting with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the de facto ruler of the UAE, Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, using former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as a mediator, but no such meeting has been convened.
However, the American media reports say that Netanyahu has been in touch with UAE officials over the past four years through Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer.
According to another report by the Huffington Post two years ago, Dermer has a close working relationship with UAE ambassador Otaiba and they constantly hold direct meetings “on almost every issue, except for the Palestinians.”