A former Dubai police chief said he would sooner visit Israel than Qatar, demanding those who oppose relations with the Jewish state justify their position.
Dubai’s former police chief Dhahi Khalfan Tamim recently tweeted his support for advancing relations between Israel and the Arab world, raising the ire of those in the Middle East who still oppose so-called “normalization” with the Jewish state.
“Instead of saying the Israeli enemy…say the Israeli friend… where’s the problem?” tweeted Khalfan on Friday, reported the London-based Al-Araby news site.
Tamim also addressed those in the Arab world who “refus[e] to recognize Israel,” posing the rhetorical question, “Are the Jews originally from Hawaii?”
The former police chief also credited Israel as “a country based on knowledge, prosperity, and close ties with all the countries of the developed world.” His comments represent a major departure from the anti-Israel positions and statements he has made in the past.
Tamim also tweeted, “I declare that I support comprehensive and lasting peace with Israel … If peace happens with Israel and after that reconciliation with Qatar, I will go [to] Israel and I will not visit Qatar.”
According to the Al-Araby report, which was picked up by popular Israeli blog Israellycool, “[Tamim’s] tweets were met with widespread anger across the Arab world.”
While Tamim’s nation, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has no official diplomatic relations with Israel, it enjoys extensive covert cooperation with Israel and “encourage[s] other Arab states to do so” as well.
Among UAE’s overtures to Israel are its role mediating Sudan’s relations with Jewish state, in addition to welcoming Israeli diplomats to official events, playing the Israeli national anthem at a recent sporting event, and inviting Israel to participate at the 2020 World Expo in Dubai.
Such steps would have been unheard of even a decade ago.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has prioritized building bridges with Arab neighbors, focusing on countries without official relations with Israel, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, and UAE.