JERUSALEM (ISRAEL) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was likely to visit the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, however, postponed the trip because of hassles in coordinating an air corridor over Jordan, his office said.
The trip would have been the first official visit by a leader of Israel, which aimed to formalise relations with the Gulf power last year, as well as a platform for developments in foreign policy for Netanyahu before his bid for re-election on March 23.
The UAE has not officially given confirmation about the planned visit, however, information about the same was leaked to Israeli media on Wednesday. According to a statement issued by Netanyahu’s office, he and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan have readied to reschedule.
The hold-up in overflight permission from Amman for Netanyahu’s plane “apparently” arouse after a visit to Jerusalem’s al Aqsa mosque compound was cancelled by Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah on Wednesday over a dispute with regard to security arrangements at the site, the statement said.
Permission was given, however it was too late for Netanyahu’s itinerary, which included a meeting with Hungarian and Czech counterparts later on Thursday, it said.
Netanyahu had been likely to visit the UAE and Bahrain, which also has newly established ties with Israel. That said, the trip was postponed citing COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Israeli officials said earlier on Thursday that Netanyahu’s wife Sara had been hospitalised with appendicitis, which could be another possible factor, as per local media, regarding the UAE visit being postponed or not materialising.
Jordan’s ruling Hashemite dynasty is the guardian of the Al Aqsa compound, which is an embodiment of Palestinian statehood struggle and the third holiest site in Islam.