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UAE shelves preparations to host Netanyahu as Israeli PM's electioneering irks MbZ: reports

Netanyahu has been accused of using Israel-UAE ties for electioneering [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 March, 2021

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Abu Dhabi is reportedly outraged with Netanyahu's use of UAE-Israel ties to boost his election prospects.
The UAE has suspended preparations for a summit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Arab states with newly-normalised ties with Israel, Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported on Thursday.

The news follows reports that UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed has become increasingly annoyed with Netanyahu's use of UAE-Israel ties for electioneering.

The embattled Israeli premier is due to fight his fourth election in less than two years later this month, amid unresolved legal battles that have dogged his recent years in office.

At a recent campaign rally, Netanyahu boasted to supporters that the wealthy Gulf state intends to invest "tens of billions of dollars" in Israel, insisting that Crown Prince Mohammed, also known as MbZ, had given him a personal guarantee.

On Wednesday, Emirati Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash appeared to shoot down Netanyahu's enthusiasm about Israel-UAE cooperation, saying in a tweet that the UAE "will not be a part of any internal electioneering in Israel, now or ever".

Gargash added that "from the UAE’s perspective, the purpose of the Abrahamic Accords is to provide a robust strategic foundation to foster peace and prosperity with the State of Israel and in the wider region".

Netanyahu, in power since 2009, has sought to burnish his credentials as Israel's leading statesman as part of his re-election pitch ahead of 23 March polls.

But in recent days the Israeli leader has earned the anger of his regional neighbours and allies.

Last week, it was revealed that a flight Netanyahu was due to take to Abu Dhabi was cancelled after Jordan delayed airspace approval for the flight.

Amman appeared to be acting in response to an earlier disagreement with Israeli authorities over security arrangements for Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah's cancelled his visit to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque.

It was later revealed that Netanyahu, infuriated by Amman's actions, ordered Israeli airspace to be closed to Jordanian flights.

Amid the spat, Netanyahu rival Benny Gantz accused the prime minister of endangering Israel's national security.

"Netanyahu is motivated by personal, political needs and is violating diplomatic agreements…The attempt to bypass the defence establishment and foreign service upends the entire… decision-making system of the state," Blue and White Party leader Gantz tweeted on Monday.

"This just shows that he has entirely lost his reason and is doing everything to take care of himself instead of the country," he added.

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