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Kuwait boycotts UAE energy event over Israeli presence
January 20, 2014, 8:50 am

Kuwaiti officials have opted to boycott a regional conference on renewable energy in the UAE over the presence of an Israeli delegation.

Israel’s energy minister Silvan Shalom is part of an official delegation from the country currently visiting Abu Dhabi for the World Future Energy Summit, which begins on Monday. It is the first such visit by an Israeli official to the Gulf state since the UAE suspected Israeli involvement in the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai in 2010.

That announcement came just days after Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said that the UAE would be willing to trade with Israel if it agreed to a peace deal with the Palestinians.

However, the Israeli presence has irked Kuwait, with that country’s Ministry of Electricity and Water announcing that it would no longer be attending. “The decision comes in line with Kuwait’s commitment to boycott all forms of interaction with the Zionist regime (Israel),” the ministry said in a statement, according to Kuwait Times.

The only Arab countries Israel currently enjoys diplomatic relations with are Jordan and Egypt. None of the Gulf countries have recognised Israel since the Jewish state was founded in 1948, prompting the first Israeli-Arab War.

Both Israel and the Gulf states however share a mutual distrust of regional Shi’ite Muslim power Iran, which the former strongly believes is weaponising its nuclear energy programme.

High-level officials in the UAE have defended Shalom’s visit. “The UAE has been able, through a delicate balance, to differentiate between Israel’s membership in IRENA and the normalisation of bilateral ties which Israel has been seeking,” the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Mohammad Gargash reportedly wrote on Twitter.

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