Dramatic Change Hailed in Israel’s Mideast Diplomacy

YERUSHALAYIM -
Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dore Gold. (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dore Gold. (THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

While diplomatic tensions with the U.S. and the European Union continue to make headlines, Israel has made unprecedented strides in its relations with Arab countries away from the glare of publicity, Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said Tuesday.

Israel can communicate today with “almost every Arab state,” as long as it doesn’t turn up on the next day’s front pages, Gold told the Institute of Security Studies’ (INSS) annual conference in Tel Aviv.

Gold called it a “dramatic change.” “We have a lack of agreement with different countries in the world,” Gold said. “It is no secret that we have problems in Europe. But there are many countries open to Israel today, and those who say we are isolated do not know what they are talking about.”

The comments came a day after reports that National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz was in Abu Dhabi for talks with Emirati officials this week.

Gold said he himself travels to various Arab capitals, though he did not elaborate. He
was in Abu Dhabi in November, ahead of the opening of an Israeli office in the International Renewable Energy Agency located there.

On Monday, Gold met with Egypt’s new ambassador to Israel, Hazem Khairat. The Egyptian envoy arrived at his new post two weeks ago. He is the first Egyptian ambassador to Israel since 2012, when then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood recalled then- ambassador Atef Salem in protest against Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza.