A public partnership with the UAE would have been a political windfall for Benjamin Netanyahu, who has sought to build ties with Arab countries without making progress on a peace accord with the Palestinians.
Tel Aviv: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel announced a new partnership with the United Arab Emirates on Thursday to cooperate in the fight against the coronavirus, portraying it as the latest advance in the Jewish State’s efforts to build stronger ties with Arab States.
But Netanyahu’s ebullient description was contradicted a few hours later when the Emirates issued a much more muted statement, announcing what it described as an agreement between two private Emirati companies and two Israeli companies to develop technology to fight the virus.
The Emirati statement took the wind out of what Netanyahu had touted as a diplomatic coup, suggesting that despite the deepening ties, the two countries were still at odds over Netanyahu’s vow to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
Addressing graduates at an air force base near Tel Aviv, Netanyahu spoke in grand terms of what he described as a new partnership that could benefit the broader West Asia.
“Our ability to work against the corona pandemic can also serve the entire region,” he said. “It creates opportunities for us for open cooperation that we have not known so far with certain countries.”
The partnership would include cooperation in research and development between the Israeli and Emirati health ministries in medical projects related to the coronavirus, he said.
To seal the deal, he said, the two ministries would announce the agreement “in a few moments.”