Anwar Gargash
Anwar Gargash Reuters

Anwar Gargash, a senior official in the Foreign Ministry of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said that "the Arab countries' decision not to have relations with the State of Israel was wrong."

"The decision by many Arab countries not to engage in dialogue with Israel has consistently complicated any effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue for decades," he opined.

Speaking at a conference in Abu Dhabi, the senior official predicted that relations between Israel and the Arab states would be strengthened in the near future.

"There is no doubt that there are deep political disagreements, but this does not contradict the fact that open channels of communication with Israel must be left to all parties who can benefit from them," said Gargash.

His remarks were made against the background of the UAE's criticism of the US decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Gargash has in the past criticized Iran and said that its "aggressive policies" were "largely responsible" for the reimposition of US sanctions on Tehran.

In another instance, he called for Iran’s presence in Syria to be reduced.

Israel and the UAE do not have diplomatic relations. A new Israeli diplomatic mission was opened in Abu Dhabi in 2015, but the UAE stressed that the move does not represent a change in policy regarding UAE-Israeli relations.

Nevertheless, Israeli officials have visited Abu Dhabi in recent months, including Communications Minister Ayoob Kara and Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev.

It was also reported that Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay secretly visited Abu Dhabi in early December 2018 and met with senior government officials there. The Labor Party refused to confirm or deny the report.