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Netanyahu cancels UAE trip as wife hospitalised: Israeli media

Benjamin Netanyahu was due to fly to the UAE on Thursday [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 March, 2021

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The cancellation may come as a relief to some Emirati officials who had preferred that the embattled Israeli leader visit after his upcoming election battle.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cancelled a long-anticipated trip to the United Arab Emirates due to his wife's hospitalisation, Israel's Kan public broadcaster reported on Thursday.

Sara Netanyahu was hospitalised on Thursday with an appendix infection at Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center, the hospital said.

Netanyahu's planned trip to the UAE was meant to cement new diplomatic ties between the two nations and boost the embattled Israeli leader’s re-election hopes.

An official in the Prime Minister's Office said that Sara Netanyahu felt unwell and was taken to Hadassah Medical Center, where she will remain hospitalised for several days. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.

Initial Israeli media reports indicated that the trip had been cancelled due to Jordan refusing to allow Netanyahu's flight in their airspace. Israel Hayom commentator Ariel Kahane said on Twitter that Israeli political sources felt that Jordan was responding to Tel Aviv's cancelling of Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah's visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque on Wednesday.

Netanyahu is locked in a tight race against a field of challengers in Israel's fourth election in two years, and is sure to use the trip — 12 days before Israelis go to the polls — to his own political advantage.

The UAE became the third Arab nation after Egypt and Jordan to establish formal diplomatic ties to Israel in August.

Thursday’s visit, which has been delayed several times due to coronavirus restrictions, could have helped Netanyahu divert attention from his upcoming corruption trial and anger over the economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis.

Kan's report on Thursday indicated that the visit's cancellation may come as a relief to some Emirati officials, who had preferred that the embattled leader visit after Israel's election.

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