The New Yorker’s Adam Entous published a bombshell report Monday chronicling, among other things, Israel’s recent outreach to Gulf Arab states to work together in countering Iranian influence in the region and to kill the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal.
Entous reports that “U.S. intelligence agencies learned of phone calls between senior United Arab Emirates and Israeli officials, including calls between a senior Emirati leader and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.”
He added that Hillary Clinton, both as Obama’s secretary of state and as a presidential candidate, “knew that the UAE and Saudi Arabia were already working together behind the scenes with Mossad to counter Iranian influence.”
Entous reveals that U.S. intelligence agencies “picked up on a secret meeting between senior UAE and Israeli leaders in Cyprus.” UAE does not officially have diplomatic relations with Israel.
U.S. officials apparently suspected that Netanyahu himself attended the meeting, which centered on countering Obama’s Iran deal. However, the Obama administration was never told of the meeting and both sides continue to deny it ever it happened.
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It was revealed in mid-May that Netanyahu met in March 2018 with a senior diplomat from the UAE.
According to a report by the Associated Press, Netanyahu met the UAE's ambassador to Washington, Yousef al Otaiba, during his visit to the American capital two months ago.
The report stated that during Netanyahu's three-day visit to Washington, he had dinner at a restaurant where Otaiba was also present with a group. The Emirati ambassador, considered one of the most influential foreign emissaries in Washington, was made aware of Netanyahu's presence and invited him and his wife, Sara, to join his table.
According to the report, Netanyahu joined the ambassador's table, answered some policy questions and shook hands with Otaiba before departing.
The Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem has yet to respond to the report.
Although the two countries do not have diplomatic relations, they do hold similar views of Iran and were two of the harshest critics of the nuclear deal that U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from earlier this week.
In the past, it has been reported that Otaiba enjoys a friendly relationship with Israel's ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer. Dermer even invited Otaiba to attend Netanyahu’s controversial speech to the U.S. Congress in March 2015 against the Iranian nuclear deal, but Otaiba politely declined, the Huffington Post reported.
In July 2017, Haaretz's Barak Ravid revealed that Netanyahu secretly met with Otaiba and the UAE's foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, at the prime minister's hotel room in New York in 2012.
While Netanyahu and Nahyan saw eye to eye on the Iranian nuclear issue, the foreign minister told Netanyahu his country could not warm up its relations with Israel as long as there was no progress in the peace process with the Palestinians, said two senior Western diplomats who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter.