Israel is hunting for office space in Abu Dhabi as a member of the independent international agency on renewable energy, based in the United Arab Emirates.
The headquarters of IRENA, the 144-member International Renewable Energy Agency, is based in Masdar City, just outside of Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the UAE. But it is not yet clear where Israel will set up its office.
According to an email statement sent to JewishPress.com by IRENA, under the organization’s headquarters agreement, Israel could open an office in Abu Dhabi with the “same privileges and immunities as are accorded to diplomatic missions” in a location approved by the UAE.
“The work of member missions is confined to engagement with the agency … and bears no implication on the relation between the member of IRENA and the host country,” the agency stated.
An Israeli delegation visited Abu Dhabi had “inquired into office space” at the agency’s office in Masdar last week, though no agreement was made, said agency spokesperson Timothy Hurst.
Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold reportedly traveled to Abu Dhabi last Tuesday, a fact confirmed in remarks Sunday morning at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally commended him and the Foreign Ministry as a whole for their work”on the opening of an office in Abu Dhabi. This reflects the fact that Israel is appreciated in many fields including technology, and other fields, both within the Middle East and beyond.”
This is the first formal Israeli presence in the Arabian peninsula in years; Jerusalem currently has no diplomatic relations with Abu Dhabi.
A spokesperson for the UAE Foreign Ministry said in response to the announcement, “The move does not represent a change in the UAE’s diplomatic stance towards Israel. It (IRENA) is an independent agency.
“The mission is tasked with and limited to maintaining ties within the organization. The objectives of the mission have no bearing on the host country and its diplomatic relations,” the UAE spokesperson added.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nachshon said the new office will open “soon” under IRENA’s charter. In reality, this is not the first time in which Israelis have entered the UAE, a federation of seven emirates.
In 2010, then-National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau entered the country to participate in an IRENA conference on behalf of Israel. A number of Israeli athletes, business representatives and others are also allowed to enter the country from time to time as well. Officially, however, those who hold Israeli passports are not allowed to enter the UAE.Hana Levi Julian