Likud’s Regev says she doesn’t like Dubai and won’t go back there
Transport Minister Miri Regev said in a speech on Wednesday that she did not like visiting Dubai and would not go back to the United Arab Emirates, which has been at the forefront of Israel’s recent efforts to normalize ties with Arab nations .
“I was in Dubai. I will not be going back. I don’t like the place,” Regev said at a conference on Wednesday, praising the emirate’s ability to build roads.
His unprovoked broadside against the UAE comes amid rising tensions between Israel’s hardline government and Arab nations that have made peace with Israel.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen tried to soften the impact of his fellow Likud minister’s faux pas, tweeting a picture of himself with the ruler of Dubai, with the caption “I love Dubai, and so do the million Israelis who visited the UAE in 2022.”
Regev, the Likud party’s most senior female politician, visited Dubai in 2018 in his capacity as minister of culture and sports to watch the Israeli judoka team compete at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam, marking the first official state visit since Israeli minister.
This was two years before the signing of the Abraham Accords, which normalized ties between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi.
And so also מייין ישראלים שביקור ביהודה האמירויאת האריינת
— אלי כהן | Eli Cohen (@elicoh1) March 22, 2023
Relations with the UAE have looked rocky since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was sworn in.
Abu Dhabi joined Qatar and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in condemning the remarks of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who said this week in Paris that the Palestinian nation does not exist, while standing on a podium with a map of ” Greater Israel” including the territories of Jordan and the West Bank.
The Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned both the map and the statements, stressing the need to “combat hate speech and violence.”
In January, the Emirates postponed an official visit to Netanyahu after National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir visited the site of the Temple Mount flashpoint, citing scheduling problems.
Since then, attempts to reschedule have been unsuccessful. A Middle Eastern diplomat who spoke to The Times of Israel confirmed that Ben Gvir’s actions prompted the postponement of the visit.
In a statement issued hours after Ben Gvir visited the site, the UAE announced its “storming in the courtyard of the Al-Aqsa Mosque” and called for an end to “serious and provocative violations”.
Ben Gvir has long been an advocate for formally changing the Temple Mount status quo, where Muslims are allowed to pray and enter with few restrictions and Jews can only visit during limited periods of time through one gate and walk on a predetermined way, closely coupled with it. by police. Jews are not allowed to pray at the site, although police have seen more in recent years allowing some quiet prayer.
The UAE also requested a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council after the settlers’ rampage in Huwara in February, which left Palestinians dead and many houses and vehicles torched.
Although Regev rejected Dubai’s wishes, she said she was very impressed as transport minister.
“It’s amazing what they’ve built in six years. A country in six years. And we cannot build wide roads, with many lanes, including lanes for public transport and bicycle paths,” she told a Conference of the Israel Lands Authority in Tel Aviv.
The Minister spoke as protestors demonstrated a stand-off outside the conference against the coalition government’s plan to insult the judiciary.
Also in the speech, Regev announced plans for the “Peace Railway” connecting Haifa to the Jordan River Crossing, an international border crossing between Irbid, Jordan, and Beit She’an, Israel, although it was not clear which when or whether the project would be involved. get up and running.