Khaled al-Yamani
Khaled al-Yamani Reuters

Yemen’s Foreign Minister says a "protocol error" landed him next to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Warsaw conference this week, AFP reported.

"Protocol errors are the responsibility of the organizers, as is always the case in international conferences," Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani wrote on Twitter late Thursday.

"The stance of Yemen and President (Abedrabbo Mansour) Hadi on the Palestinian issue and its people and leadership is firm," Yamani insisted.

He said Yemen attended the Warsaw conference not to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict but rather “to mobilize the international community to confront the Iranian expansion in Yemen."

Its participation was also "part of the battle to restore" the internationally-recognized government, which is at war with Iran-backed Houthi rebels, Yamani added.

Yamani was already seated when Netanyahu took his place on Thursday at an international conference in Warsaw focused on security in the Middle East.

The two nodded at each other and exchanged brief smiles as Netanyahu sat down.

During a part of the session closed to the press, Yamani later lent Netanyahu his microphone when the Netanyahu’s audio equipment did not work properly.

US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt hailed the exchange on Twitter, calling it a "lighthearted moment" which he said could be the sign of "new cooperation" between the Jewish and Arab states.

Yemen and Israel have never had diplomatic relations, and Yamani's friendly interaction with Netanyahu drew criticism online and from his government's opponents.

The Houthis issued a statement "rejecting all attempts to normalize" relations with Israel "at the expense of Arab and Islamic causes, primarily the Palestinian cause."

Yamani's participation alongside Netanyahu revealed the "moral bankruptcy" of Yemen's government "and its sponsors in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi", the rebels said, according to AFP.

The war between the Houthis and pro-government troops escalated in March 2015, when President Hadi fled into exile in Riyadh and a Saudi-led military coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates intervened against the rebels.

It has long been believed that Iran is planning to use the Houthis to take over Yemen and seize the key strategic port of Aden, which controls the entrance to the Red Sea and ultimately to the Israeli resort city of Eilat.

Iran denies it is backing the Houthis and has also denied Saudi Arabian accusations that Tehran provided the Houthi rebels in Yemen with ballistic capabilities.

Hezbollah, which is Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, is believed to train and support the Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels. In August of last year, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah met with a delegation of Houthi rebels.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)