Anti-BDS Israel advocacy group opens UAE office
A US Jewish advocacy group opened its first office in the Middle East in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, in a move welcomed by the country's foreign minister to "promote dialogue".
The New York-based American Jewish Committee (AJC) describes itself as "strengthening Israel’s place in the world" and is vehemently opposed to the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
"We are thrilled to have you," UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan told the AJC's annual global forum on Monday.
"Your presence in the UAE is ... part of changing mindsets."
The UAE normalised ties with Israel last year in talks spearheaded by former US President Donald Trump. The deal, known as the Abraham Accords, was widely criticised by Palestinians and pro-Palestine activists as undermining the struggle for Palestinian rights and statehood.
The UAE and Israel have since signed a wide range of cooperation agreements in fields ranging from banking to filmmaking.
Sheikh Abdullah's Bahraini counterpart, Abdullatif Al-Zayani, also spoke at the event.
"We have to be tolerant to thrive ... in a challenging neighbourhood," he said.
"Bahrain is a nation that believes in dialogue, that believes in respecting the other, that believes in coexistence, that believes in cooperation, and that's what His Majesty, the King, practices in his doctrine and his decision to pursue peace with Israel," he added, referring to Bahrain's decision to normalise ties with Israel as part of the Abraham Accords.
The Abraham Accords were also signed by Sudan and Morocco, but the remaining countries in the region refuse to deal diplomatically with Israel due to its occupation of Palestine.
The UAE and Bahrain have continued to further ties with Israel, even after Israel's bombing campaign on Gaza last month.
The recent 11-day Israeli assault, which ended on May 21, resulted in the deaths of more than 250 Palestinians, including dozens of children.
Israeli extremist groups have continued regular raids on Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, threatening a fragile ceasefire in place between Israel and Hamas.