Israel and the United Arab Emirates have held secret talks in the past few months as part of efforts to combat what the two countries view as a growing threat from Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
The meetings between Israeli and Emirati officials were arranged by Brian Hook, the U.S. State Department's top official for Iran, the report said, with the first meeting taking place in the spring and a second more recently.
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According to the Wall Stret Journal, the discussions – known only to a few American officials – seem to suggest that contacts between Jerusalem and Gulf Arab nations are deepening further than previous coordination. The report further said that the increasing cooperation had origins in the conference on Middle East security that took place in Warsaw in February, which was brokered by the U.S.
The report also quoted a former U.S. official as saying that Hook is seeking help from Israel and the UAE in getting countries in Europe and the Middle East to take a hardline approach to Iran.
The report came a week after Israel’s foreign minister said he recently met with a “high ranking persona” from the UAE to improve ties between Israel and Arab states.
Israel Katz told a ministers’ meeting that the two reached “substantial agreements,” adding that he was working toward “transparent normalization and signed agreements” with Gulf states. He added: “We do not have a conflict with them.”
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has often boasted of improving ties with Arab states that share Israel’s concerns about Iran. Katz visited the UAE for a UN conference earlier this year. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said he met with a senior UAE official there. Netanyahu visited Oman last year.
AP contributed to this report.