Former ambassador to Turkey Eitan Na’eh will be Israel’s top diplomat in Abu Dhabi, as Israel sets up its mission in the United Arab Emirates’ capital, a source in the Foreign Ministry confirmed.
Na’eh will be Israel’s first diplomat officially and openly stationed in the UAE. He is expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi in the coming days.
The diplomat’s position as chargé d’affaires is expected to be temporary, until an ambassador is appointed, likely after the next government is formed following the election in March 2021.
He will work in a temporary Israeli mission, while the Foreign Ministry sets up its embassy in the Gulf state following the Abraham Accords, the peace treaty between Israel and the UAE announced last summer.
Israel already has a mission in Bahrain, the second country to join the Abraham Accords, which had been operating secretly before relations between the countries became public.
Na’eh was Israel’s ambassador in Ankara in 2016-2018. Turkey expelled Na’eh in 2018 in protest of the number of Palestinian casualties when the IDF tried to stop rioters from crossing the border from Gaza into Israel. Israel has not had an ambassador to Turkey since then.
The UAE and Turkey’s relations have been tense in recent years, especially as Turkey supported Qatar in its diplomatic crisis with other Gulf states and the UAE supported Kurds in Syria. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi recognized the Armenian Genocide in 2019.
Following the announcement of the Abraham Accords, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry accused the UAE of “hypocritical behavior” and “a betrayal to the Palestinian cause for its own narrow interests.”