Jordan blocking Netanyahu from flying to United Arab Emirates

Jordan blocking Netanyahu from flying to United Arab Emirates

“Netanyahu’s departure to visit the Emirates is delayed because there is no authorization of the flight path by the Jordanians at this time,” the diplomatic source said. “The assessment is that this delay, revealed shortly before the flight, is because of the cancellation of the Jordanian crown price’s visit to the Temple Mount yesterday, because of a dispute over security arrangements.”

Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah had planned to visit the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount on Wednesday, following ongoing talks between with Israel over his security.

However, the prince arrived at the border with Israel with more armed guards than Israel had authorized. The additional guards were not permitted to enter Israel, and Prince Hussein canceled his visit.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Wednesday that Netanyahu’s poor relationship with Jordanian King Abdullah is “the failure of the Netanyahu government in all of its 15 years.”

“The strategic rift in relations between Israel and Jordan [is] precisely because of Netanyahu,” he said.

Israeli-Jordanian ties have been strained during Netanyahu’s tenure, but as of late, they have warmed slightly. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi has met three times with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz reportedly met with Jordanian King Abdullah.

Abu Dhabi was still preparing for Netanyahu to visit, with a slight delay on Thursday.

Netanyahu’s trip to the UAE was supposed to be his first since the announcement of Abraham Accords, marking peace and normalization between the Gulf state and Israel, in August.

Earlier Thursday, Netanyahu considered canceling his trip to the United Arab Emirates after his wife, Sarah Netanyahu, was hospitalized with appendicitis.

Sarah Netanyahu felt unwell late Wednesday night and went to Hadassah Ein Kerem, where she was diagnosed with appendicitis, and will remain in the hospital for several days. Netanyahu accompanied his wife to the hospital.

Netanyahu is expected to meet with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the leader of the UAE, at the airport in the Emirati capital, on a two-hour visit.

Israeli, Emirati and Saudi officials had worked on a possible secret meeting between Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during the brief trip to the UAE.

“MBS is ready to meet Bibi,” a well-placed Emirati source said.

Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic relations, but ties between the countries have been warming, especially in cooperation against their shared adversary, Iran. Netanyahu and MBS, as the Saudi crown prince is known, met in November of last year in the Saudi town of Neom, though neither has officially confirmed it.

Asked about meeting with MBS on Tuesday, Netanyahu quipped: “What is it like to ask questions you know you won’t get an answer to?”

The UAE trip was set to take place less than two weeks before the March 23 election, despite reports that officials in the UAE were hesitant to host Netanyahu at a date that would be viewed as political.

The source in Abu Dhabi confirmed that the election was a consideration, but the UAE’s leadership decided to welcome Netanyahu regardless of the date.

Three previous Netanyahu visits to the UAE were canceled, twice due to COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, as well as political developments, and once because of scheduling issues in Abu Dhabi. He had originally planned a trip of several days, with stops in Dubai and Bahrain, as well.

Speaking of a planned visit to the UAE, Netanyahu said last month: “It has great security, national and international importance.”

Netanyahu also plans to meet with the prime ministers of Hungary and the Czech Republic in Jerusalem on Thursday evening, to discuss cooperation on COVID-19 vaccine production.

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