UAE Minister Slams Netanyahu for Saying Israel Is Nation-state of Jews Alone

Rebuke comes hours after Netanyahu says Israel is in contact with six Arab countries to advance normalization

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at Likud headquarters, Ramat gan, March 4, 2019.

The United Arab Emirates' minister of state for foreign affairs slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday for saying that Israel is the nation-state of Jews alone.

Dr. Anwar Gargash tweeted, "Not only are PM Netanyahu's comments that 'Israel is not a state for all its citizens' repugnant, but they provide vindication sought by extremists. The road to peace is further undermined by this shameful approach."

The UAE, like 29 other Arab and Muslim states, does not recognize Israel and the countries have no formal diplomatic relations. According to reports, however, Netanyahu has had contact with senior UAE officials.

Culture Minister Miri Regev visited the UAE in October 2018 to attend a judo tournament and later toured the grand mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Gargash's comments came shortly after Netanyahu addressed Israel's warming ties with Arab countries at a memorial service for former Prime Minister Levi Eshkol at Mount Herzl.

"Only when our neighbors are convinced that our power and presence here are certain facts, only then will they be convinced to make peace with us," Netanyahu said. "We are doing this with large parts of the Arab and Muslim world through an accelerated process of normalization… These days Israel is making contact with half a dozen important Arab and Muslim nations, which were, until recently, hostile to Israel."

'Arabs are human beings'

Gargash's tweet came in response to statements Netanyahu made on Sunday when he addressed comments by Israeli TV presenter and model Rotem Sela, who wrote on social media that Israel is a country of all its citizens. Actress Gal Gadot later rebuked Netanyahu for his remarks, as did President Reuven Rivlin.

"When the hell will someone in this government broadcast to the public that Israel is a country for all its citizens," Sela wrote, commending on an interview Culture Minister Miri Regev gave to Channel 12's "Meet the Press."

"And every person was born equal. Arabs, too, God help us, are human beings. And so are the Druze. And so are gays, by the way, and lesbians, and…shock…leftists."

On Sunday morning, Netanyahu responded to Sela on Instagram. He uploaded a picture of himself against the backdrop of an Israeli flag, and wrote, "Dear Rotem, an important correction: Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the Nation-State Law that we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People - and them alone."