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Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu and UAE's foreign minister 'secretly met' in US

Netanyahu sent messages to senior UAE officials through intermediaries [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 July, 2017

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The UAE's Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu 'secretly met' in New York in 2012, according to a recent report.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan held a secret meeting in New York in 2012, an Israeli daily reported.

The two leaders discussed Iran's suspected nuclear programme in Netanyahu's hotel room on 28 September 2012, during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

The Israeli prime minister had given a speech a day earlier, where he said the international community must set a "red line" for Iran's nuclear enrichment programme to prevent Tehran building a nuclear weapon.

The report suggested Netanyahu had tried to arrange a meeting with the powerful Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan.

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair - who shares a close friendship with Prince Mohammed - had tried to arrange the meeting but was unsuccessful.

But the 2012 meeting saw UAE's Ambassador to Washington Yousef al-Otaiba accompany Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed to the Israeli leader's hotel room. 

They entered the hotel through the underground parking lot and were taken upstairs to Netanyahu's suite on one of the hotel's top floors in a service elevator.

Israel's then-National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror was with Netanyahu during the meeting, along with the prime minister's Military Secretary Maj. Gen. Johanan Locker.

Bin Zayed expressed his appreciation for Netanyahu's speech to the General Assembly, and the two agreed on key issues regarding, the sources said.

Two informed Western diplomats said bin Zayed agreed to the meeting with Netanyahu to discuss Iran after the Israeli leader sent messages to senior UAE officials through intermediaries, Haaretz reported.

One of the foreign minister's main messages to Netanyahu was that the UAE was interested in improving relation but could not do so publically if there was no progress in the peace process with Palestinians.

Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv share no official relations, but Israeli officials have been repeatedly suggesting there is a profound cooperation with UAE and Saudi Arabia. They say they have been working together against common foe Iran and against groups such as Hamas.

Last month, a group of hackers stole e-mails from Ambassador Otaiba's account and threatened to expose UAE's ties to Israel and its incitement of anti-democratic movements within the Middle East.

The group, which calls itself "GlobalLeaks" and uses a Russian email account address, said the leaks "reveal how millions of dollars were used to hurt [the] reputation of American allies and cause policy changes," especially in regards to Qatar, Turkey, Israel, Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood. 

The emails show a "growing link" between the UAE and pro-Israel think-tank, Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

One of FDD's senior councillors John Hannah "continued to exchange" a series of e-mails with Otaiba in which the two emphasise the positive relations between UAE officials and FDD.

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