Israel started building ties with the UAE in the mid-2000s, says a former Mossad official, who was tasked with establishing that connection. Gradually these relations evolved into full-fledged cooperation and now other countries might follow in the footsteps of Abu Dhabi, striking their own deals with the Jewish state.
The first-ever commercial flight between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi is set to take place early next week, as Israel and the United Arab Emirates step up efforts to normalise ties.
Israel’s national carrier El Al, that will operate the flight, will carry a high-profile Israeli and American delegation to the UAE, where the teams are supposed to mull over future steps before the two countries ink an official peace treaty in Washington in the coming months.
Official relations between the two states started on 13 August, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the UAE would be the third Arab state to officially recognise Israel.
David Meidan, former head of Mossad’s “Tevel” division, a branch responsible for external relations with peer organisations and states Israel has no official ties with and a man, who established the Jewish state’s first contacts with Abu Dhabi, tells Sputnik his own story on when and how these relations actually began.
Sputnik: When did it all start?
Meidan: Relations started at the end of 2005, the beginning of 2006. Prior to that, Israeli officials would “bump” into their Emirati counterparts occasionally. We would see them in third countries, at summits or meetings, we would come across their ambassadors but it wasn’t something serious.
“Serious” relations only kicked off in 2006 when then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon approached the head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, and tasked him with two missions.
The first one was to handle the Iranian threat [allegations that the Islamic Republic is developing weapons of mass destruction – ed.] and the second one was establishing ties with moderate Sunni states in the region.
Dagan then approached me and appointed me to head the Tevel Division, where my team was supposed to establish those ties and maintain them.