The United Arab Emirates plans to maintain diplomatic ties with Israel despite international outcry over the mounting toll of the war in Gaza and hopes to have some moderating influence over the Israeli campaign while safeguarding its own interests, according to four sources familiar with UAE government policy.
Abu Dhabi became the most prominent Arab nation to establish diplomatic ties with Israel in 30 years under the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords in 2020. That paved the way for other Arab states to forge their own ties with Israel by breaking a taboo on normalizing relations without the creation of a Palestinian state.
The mounting death toll from Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip – launched in retaliation for cross-border attacks on Oct. 7 by the Hamas militant group that governs the enclave – have stirred outrage in Arab capitals.
UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan spoke last month with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. UAE officials have publicly condemned Israel’s actions and repeatedly called for an end to the violence.
In response to a request for comment for this story, an Emirati official said the UAE’s immediate priority was to secure a ceasefire and to open up humanitarian corridors.
The Gulf Arab power, backed by its oil wealth, wields significant influence in regional affairs. It also serves as a security partner of the United States, hosting American forces.
As well as speaking to Israel, the UAE has worked to moderate public positions taken by Arab states so that once the war ends there is the possibility of a return to a broad dialogue, said the four sources, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Sheikh Mohamed met in Abu Dhabi on Thursday with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to discuss calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, amid Qatari-brokered talks for the release of a limited number of hostages in return for a break in the fighting.
“The UAE and Qatar stand firm in urging the need to advance de-escalation efforts and secure a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the region,” Sheikh Mohamed said on social media after their discussions.
Despite closer economic and security ties with Israel forged over the past three years, Abu Dhabi has had little apparent success in reining in the Gaza offensive, which has led to the death of more than 11,000 people, according to Palestinian officials. Hamas killed around 1,200 people in its surprise attack on Israel and some 240 hostages were taken, Israeli authorities have said.
Amid the impasse, the UAE has grown increasingly frustrated with its most important security partner Washington, which it believes is not exerting enough pressure to end the war, the four sources said.
Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE president, said this week that Washington needed to end the conflict swiftly and initiate a process to resolve the decades old Israeli-Palestinian issue by addressing refugees, borders and East Jerusalem.
The UAE has publicly expressed concern that the war now risks igniting regional tensions and a new wave of extremism in the Middle East.
Speaking on Oct. 18 at the UN Security Council, where the UAE holds a rotating seat, ambassador Lana Nusseibeh said that Abu Dhabi had sought via the Abraham Accords with Israel and the United States to deliver prosperity and security in a new Middle East through cooperation and peaceful co-existence.
“The indiscriminate damage visited upon the people of Gaza in pursuit of Israel’s security risks extinguishing that hope,” she said.
A senior European official told Reuters that Arab states had recognized now that it was not possible to build ties with Israel without addressing the Palestinian issue. Israel’s foreign ministry declined to comment for this story.
NO BREAK IN TIES
The UAE continues to host an Israeli ambassador and there was no prospect of an end to diplomatic ties, which represented a longer-term strategic priority by Abu Dhabi, the sources said.
The accord was motivated, in part, by shared concerns over the threat posed by Iran, as well as a broader economic-driven realignment of Abu Dhabi’s foreign policy. The UAE sees Iran as a threat to regional security, although in recent years it has taken diplomatic steps to de-escalate tensions.
Israel and the UAE have developed close economic and security ties in the three years since normalization, including defense cooperation. Israel supplied the UAE with air defense systems after missile and drone attacks on Abu Dhabi in early 2022 by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen.
Bilateral trade has exceeded $6 billion since 2020, according to Israeli government data. Israeli tourists have thronged hotels, beaches and shopping centers in the UAE, which is an OPEC oil power and a regional business hub.
“They (UAE) have gains that they don’t want to lose,” said one of the sources, a senior diplomat based in the Middle East.
Even prior to the Oct. 7 attack, however, Abu Dhabi was concerned by the failure of Israel’s right-wing government to curb expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and repeated visits by right-wing religious Israelis to the compound that houses the Al Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. The compound, revered by Jews as a vestige of their two ancient temples, has long been a flashpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
None of four sources ruled out that the UAE could downgrade or sever its ties if the crisis escalated.
Sources said that the displacement of the Palestinian population from the Gaza Strip or the West Bank into Egypt or Jordan was a red line for Abu Dhabi.
James Dorsey, a senior fellow at the National University of Singapore, said the war in Gaza had discredited the notion that economic cooperation on its own could build a stable region. “The new Middle East was being built on very fragile ground,” he told Reuters.
DISTANCED FROM HAMAS
Israel has rejected international calls for an immediate ceasefire: Netanyahu has said there would be no halt to its attack until hostages are returned. His government has pledged to destroy Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.
While criticizing Israel’s conduct of the war, Abu Dhabi has also condemned Hamas for its attack. The UAE sees the Palestinian militant group and other Islamists as a threat to the stability of the Middle East and beyond.
“Hamas is not their favorite organization,” said one of the sources. “It is Muslim Brotherhood after all.”
The UAE has led the charge against Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest Islamist organization in the Arab World.
It helped Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi topple Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in a military takeover in 2013 that followed mass protests against his rule. The UAE provided Egypt with billions of dollars in support following Mursi’s ouster.
Abu Dhabi also abandoned Sudan’s former Islamist president Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2019, ultimately leading to the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood’s grip on power there after it had dominated Sudanese politics for decades. The UAE had previously pumped billions of dollars into Sudan’s coffers.
The post Exclusive-UAE Plans to Maintain Ties with Israel Despite Gaza Outcry, Sources Say first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
On Explosive Northern Front, Hezbollah Lurks; IDF Conducts Precise Defense
JNS.org – As Israel prepares for the strong possibility of a resumption of war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Defense Forces is also currently in a heightened state of alert and preparedness along the border with Lebanon, responding to the continuous threats posed by Hezbollah.
Since Oct. 7, the IDF has deployed significant military resources, including artillery, tanks and engineering corps, along the Lebanese border, striking Hezbollah anti-tank missile squads and other terrorists whenever they are detected, either after an attack or preparing for one.
This low-intensity conflict when compared to Gaza has resulted in some 90 casualties for Hezbollah and nine Israeli casualties—six military personnel and three civilians.
Several Israeli homes and military bases have sustained heavy damage from Hezbollah strikes since Oct. 7, and tens of thousands of Israeli residents from areas near the border with Lebanon remain evacuated, displaced from their homes by the threat of the Radwan Hezbollah elite terrorist unit.
In response, the IDF has employed a defensive-responsive posture aimed at protecting Israeli territory from Hezbollah’s aggression but not escalating the situation into a full-scale war front at this time.
Its approach is characterized by a reactive rather than proactive stance. Operations are tailored to respond to specific threats and attacks from Hezbollah, avoiding initiating aggression. This goal remains to protect civilian lives and property, as well as to make sure that Hezbollah cannot surprise the north as Hamas did the south. Still, the decision of any expanded war efforts in Lebanon remains up to the war cabinet.
Hezbollah’s tactics, meanwhile, involve embedding its operations within Lebanese civilian areas; using southern Shi’ite villages as bases of attack; firing anti-tank missiles at Israeli northern homes and military positions; and continuing to pose a serious and persistent threat.
The question of whether the Radwan unit, which has murder and kidnap squads much like Hamas’s Nukhba unit, could breach the Israeli border and conduct attacks has no clear answer at this time, although the IDF is present at the border in large numbers and has proven effective at detecting Radwan unit movements in real-time.
Hezbollah’s terror tactics not only endanger Lebanese civilians but are designed to complicate the IDF’s response—a familiar use of human shielding that Hamas employs as well in Gaza.
In this explosive situation, the IDF currently exercises restraint in its counterstrikes, relying on precise intelligence to target terrorist threats while minimizing civilian casualties and collateral damage.
UNIFIL ineffective in curbing provocation
The role of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in challenging Hezbollah’s flagrant violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which bans Hezbollah from operating in Southern Lebanon, is nonexistent.
Worse yet, Hezbollah has been actively using UNIFIL as human shields, launching attacks on Israel in some cases from tens of meters from UNIFIL positions.
UNIFIL’s ineffectiveness in curbing Hezbollah’s activities is self-evident, highlighting the limitations of international peacekeeping forces in such scenarios.
Despite this, the IDF continues to remain in contact with UNIFIL and has been transmitting its concern over Hezbollah’s destabilizing activities with no tangible results.
So far, Israel’s policy on the Lebanon border is a delicate balance between essential defense and cautious restraint. But it remains unclear how long this can continue since northern residents will not return to a persistent Hezbollah threat to their lives in the new, post-Oct. 7 reality, and the IDF cannot remain fully deployed in the north indefinitely.
The result is a paradox that appears to suggest difficult decisions in the future by the Israeli war cabinet if the north is to be sustainable and its residents granted a new sense of security.
The post On Explosive Northern Front, Hezbollah Lurks; IDF Conducts Precise Defense first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
The Determination of Israel’s Reservists
JNS.org – Who is the Israel soldier? They can be of any age and profession. It may have been a long time since they held a weapon. Many of them are at Tze’elim, one of the IDF’s largest bases, just across the border from Gaza on yellow sand.
When I meet them, they are waiting, as the brief ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was still holding. A short time later, Hamas broke the truce, attacked Israel with rockets, and the fighting began again.
These soldiers are older and more emotional than you would imagine. Their intentions are clear: “Never Again.” The Oct. 7 massacre will never be permitted to reoccur. Israel must be freed from the nightmare of Hamas.
In Tze’elim, rows of barracks and numerous disorderly tents house thousands of soldiers of all kinds. We meet with a group of them from Brigade 252. They are soldiers from the miluim—the reserves. They have completed their three-year military service—or two years, if they are women—but they all keep their “miluim bag” under the bed. If the phone rings, as happened on Oct. 7, they rush to the front, whether they are in Tel Aviv or traveling in Japan, whether they are left-wing or right-wing, professors or taxi drivers. They tear themselves away from the operating room and the shop, the lawyer’s office and the bus they drive.
Commander A. is thin, with gray hair and a kind smile. He is religious. On the morning of Oct. 7, he was in synagogue without a telephone. Someone told him “something never seen before is happening.” A. rushed to his collection point in the south and has yet to return home.
On Oct. 7, the reserves were immediately thrown into the battle to retake the kibbutzim that had been attacked and massacred by Hamas terrorists. They hunted down the Hamas men who remained and collected the wounded and dead Israelis in the fields and on the roads. A. closes his eyes. He has seen hell.
The 252 was then sent into the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, home to 50,000 inhabitants who serve as human shields for what is essentially a massive rocket launching pad. The reservists were trained in a mock-up of a Gaza city. They practiced how to enter, shoot, exit, climb, attack and go through tunnels full of TNT. They trained against ambushes, snipers and RPGs.
A. says that, when they went into Beit Hanoun itself, “We had to quickly learn a lesson: Beit Hanoun’s ambush is in his heart, not its outer circles. The terrorists let you enter easily. There’s a row of houses, two or three more, and that’s where Hamas is waiting for you—where you don’t expect it, in civilian structures.”
A. explains, “If we decide to destroy a structure and there are civilians inside, we warn the civilian population. … There are precise rules for evaluating whether we have to act, whether it’s essential because if we don’t act, the lives of soldiers or Israeli civilians are in danger. We try to stop Hamas’s continuous use of human shields by moving the civilians out completely.”
A. is happy to say, “Of civilians killed in Ben Hanoun, the number is zero.”
Israeli soldiers, however, were killed. Maj. Moshe, a 50-year-old engineer who works in high-tech, explained, “An army generally advances on a territory that, once occupied, is the starting point of your next step. But here, through the tunnels under the ground, suddenly you find the enemy shooting at you from behind.”
Thus, great efforts were made to locate the tunnels. “With the use of sophisticated instruments, and also sometimes suffering unexpected explosions given that Hamas’s specialty is to mine everything with large quantities of explosives, we quickly understood that the tunnels were a very sophisticated network, not holes of various sizes dug here and there, but an enormous spider web that converged on the urban center.”
“The structures used by Hamas, which they protected with human shields, included a mosque, a school, a hospital, a public swimming pool, civilian homes, children’s rooms, even their beds. There were weapons everywhere,” he says.
As a result of the truce, Moshe states, some of the evacuated civilians have begun to return. “We can block them,” he says, “but not attack them or approach them. There is a truce.”
Nonetheless, I point out, three soldiers were wounded two days ago in an attack. “True,” Moshe replies, “and we returned fire. If we are in danger we respond.” He notes that some of the returnees are Hamas terrorists, “but we are in a truce, we act according to the rules of defense.”
“We have two ways of being at war: offensive and defensive,” he continues. “The offensive is much easier: You face the enemy. You can move. Defense is unnerving, even dangerous, especially when there are civilians around.”
However, he says, there is much to do, even during a truce. “For example, we had completely dismantled the explosive systems inside a building, and then we realized that everything had been mined again.”
Hamas, he says, is “easier to deal with than endure while you can’t move. So, we wait for orders. The mission is to destroy Hamas and bring the kidnapped people home. That and nothing else.”
Now that the soldiers are back at war, the humanitarian issue is certainly important to them; not because of what the Biden administration tells them, but because that is what an Israeli soldier is.
First and foremost, however, they are Jews who know exactly what was done to their people on Oct. 7 and will continue their war of justice and survival. One of them tells me, “Yes, I feel when we fight, feel it physically, that our kidnapped citizens are not far away, and I fight for them too with all my heart. This is the most just war of all time.”
The Moral Bankruptcy of IfNotNow
JNS.org – A few days ago, I attended a webinar entitled “Jews for Ceasefire,” presented by the young Jewish anti-Zionists of IfNotNow. It was hosted by an earnest young woman named Gen (IfNotNow activists often don’t use their surnames), who began by reaffirming what the group calls its main goal: to “end American support for Israeli apartheid.” She went on to emphasize that all the positions taken by IfNotNow are “deeply grounded in Jewish tradition.” To prove the point, she called on Rabbi Monica Gomery, who led a prayer and enthusiastically praised the group’s work.
Next up was Noa, a young woman who said, “I’m going to root us in the moment.” “The moment,” however, did not include Hamas’s Oct. 7 genocidal attack on Israeli civilians. Noa said nothing whatsoever about it. Instead, she presented a litany of alleged Israeli abuses inflicted on Palestinians. Her omission appeared to be deliberate, as it helped portray the IDF’s defensive military operations in Gaza as an unprovoked act of aggression.
Following Noa, there was a testimonial from a young man named Boaz. He made what appeared to him to be a confession that his grandfather helped perpetrate the “nakba.” What he meant was that his grandfather was a soldier in Israel’s War of Independence. For Boaz, his father’s participation in Israel’s successful effort to prevent a second Holocaust was a source of shame, not pride. As he explained, he was trying to work through his guilt. A poster behind him bore the slogan, “Palestine will be free,” a popular euphemism for that second Holocaust.
After Boaz’s self-flagellation came the highlight of the webinar—an appearance by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Tlaib has been an ally of IfNotNow for some time. In fact, the group’s leadership began collaborating with Tlaib before she was elected to Congress. During her presentation, Tlaib referred to them as her “siblings.”
Sporting a t-shirt that said, “Justice from Detroit to Gaza”—a slogan that falsely connects Israel to police brutality controversies in the U.S.—Tlaib declared that Congress must demand a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas and “stop funding war crimes.” Like her IfNotNow supporters, Tlaib conveniently made no mention of the Oct. 7 attack or the hostages held by Hamas.
It apparently did not bother the leaders of IfNotNow that the House of Representatives had just censured Tlaib for her genocidal call to free “Palestine from the river to the sea.” Indeed, IfNotNow leaders repeat the same call in their training sessions. That training also endorses the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to economically strangle Israel, as well as the so-called “right of return,” which aims to demographically eliminate the Jewish state.
It seems that IfNotNow leaders are unperturbed that Tlaib has characterized Hamas’s rampage of crimes against humanity as justified “resistance” to an “apartheid state.” These Jews, it appears, are perfectly happy to align themselves with someone who supports murdering large numbers of Jews. They are also unbothered by the fact that Tlaib posted a video on social media that says, “Joe Biden supported the genocide of the Palestinian people”—a genocide that is not happening. One of IfNotNow’s campaigns calling for a ceasefire is entitled, “No Genocide in Our Name.” Having erased Hamas’s genocidal attack, IfNotNow appears to have fabricated one.
In addition, IfNotNow has officially endorsed Tlaib’s statement, “You cannot claim to hold progressive values yet back Israel’s apartheid government.” To them and other young Jews who clasp hands with Tlaib and her compatriots, condemnation of Israel is the sine qua non of being a progressive, and a policy of racist exclusion must be imposed on any Jew who doesn’t get with the program. IfNotNow looks to Tlaib to lead the way, even though, like antisemites throughout history, she is happy to exploit them and eventually discard them once they have outlived their usefulness.
Most tellingly, IfNotNow has been unfazed by Tlaib’s open antisemitism, such as her claim that American supporters of Israel “forgot what country they represent,” clearly invoking the “dual loyalty” libel. She has also engaged in antisemitic conspiracy theories, talking about the “people behind the curtain” who are exploiting victims “from Gaza to Detroit.”
Worst of all, Tlaib is the only member of Congress to call for an end to the Jewish state. It should not be surprising that IfNotNow is fine with that, as they proudly state that they take no position on Israel’s right to exist.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has perfectly and accurately described such people as “Hamas’s useful idiots.”
The origins of IfNotNow’s ideology are obvious. Like Tlaib and many other “social justice” ideologues, IfNotNow divides people into two groups: Oppressors and the oppressed. Depending on your racial or ethnic identity, you by definition belong to one or the other. There are no gradations, no nuance and only one permissible narrative. Thus, decades of genocidal Arab violence go unmentioned, including the Oct. 7 massacre. There is only Israeli oppression and Palestinian “resistance.”
It would be a mistake to believe that IfNotNow is an inconsequential outlier. They have nine chapters across the United States and an office on K Street in Washington, D.C. The webinar I attended had more than 1,600 attendees.
They also have powerful friends and an enormous amount of money. According to NGO Monitor, IfNotNow has received grants from the wealthy Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Tides Foundation, the New Israel Fund’s Progressive Jewish Fund and the Foundation for Middle East Peace.
All that, plus support from a member of Congress. It seems that racism, hate and support for genocide pay off.