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White House hosted secret anti-Iran meeting between Israel and UAE officials

The White House hosted a secret meeting with Israel and the UAE in December [AFP]

Date of publication: 5 February, 2020

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The White House hosted a hushed trilateral meeting with the UAE and Israel to discuss countering Iran, according to an Axios report.

The US hosted another secret meeting between Israeli and the Emirati officials to strategise a response to Iran, this time at the White House, media reported on Tuesday.

Citing American and Israeli official sources, Axios revealed that the 17 December meeting, of which Jared Kushner was a key proponent, was part of broader efforts to normalise relations between Israel and Arab states.

The meeting involved top officials from the three countries, according to the article.

The US team comprised of national security advisor Robert O'Brien, his deputy Victoria Coates and special envoy to Iran Brian Hook.

Israel's delegation was spearheaded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat.

UAE ambassador to Washington Yousef Al-Otaiba, a close advisor to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, was also present.

Sources stated a correlation between the meeting and an unusual tweet by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed that month.

On 21 December, bin Zayed shared an article by UK current affairs magazine The Spectator titled "Islam's reformation: an Arab-Israeli alliance is taking shape in the Middle East".

Netanyahu responded positively to the Emirati foreign minister's post, both on social media and at a cabinet meeting.

"I can only say that this remark is the result of the ripening of many contacts and effort, which at the moment [...] would be best served by silence," he is quoted as saying.

The warming ties between Israel and the UAE on the issue of Iran are reportedly the outcome of a US-led conference held in Warsaw in February 2019.

Though billed as a Middle East security conference, the event was focused mainly on portraying Iran as a global threat.

This is not the first clandestine summit between the countries regarding Iran. The Wall Street Journal reported several meetings throughout 2019.

Read more: US hosts 'secret anti-Iran meetings' between UAE, Israel

Since the December get-together, UAE-Israeli relations have continued to warm.

Last month, Otaiba attended the launch of President Trump's Middle East Peace plan.

He later described the plan as a "serious initiative" and a "starting point" towards negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

Bin Zayed last week tweeted a piece by controversial The New York Times columnist Bret Stephens headlined "Every Time Palestinians Say ‘No,’ They Lose".

 

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