By Daniel Shane
Sheikh Mohammed says UAE would “welcome” Israel if it signs peace process
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.
In a wide-ranging interview with BBC News, Sheikh Mohammed indicated that the country could normalise relations with Israel if the latest attempt at a peace process was successful.
“After the peace process, we’d do everything with Israel, we will trade with them, we will welcome them and everything,” Sheikh Mohammed, who is also vice president and prime minister of the UAE, told BBC News. “But sign the peace process.”
The UAE, along with all other Arab states apart from Jordan and Egypt, has not had formal diplomatic ties with the Jewish state since its foundation in 1948, which began the First Arab-Israeli War.
Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians resumed in July last year following a three-year halt. US secretary of state John Kerry has visited the region ten times in order to establish a framework on guidelines for a future peace accord.
The Palestinians hope to establish an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem – land which was seized by the Israelis during the Six Day War in 1967. They also seek a halt to expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Speaking to BBC News, Sheikh Mohammed also urged the international community to lift economic sanctions against Iran.
“Iran is our neighbour and we don’t want any problems,” he said.
An agreement to relieve sanctions was struck in November between Iran and six world powers, including the US, China, Russia and Britain, and is set to come into effect on January 20. The accord will see the Islamic Republic curb parts of its nuclear programme in exchange for access to $4.2bn in foreign exchange and some relief from sanctions on gold, petrochemicals and vehicles.
The deal is intended to lay the foundation for a broader deal between Iran and world powers over the status of its disputed nuclear programme, which Iran insists is for civilian energy purposes, but is widely believed by the international community to be weaponised.
The UAE and Iran remain major trading partners, despite overall trade between the two, excluding oil, falling from AED12.3bn ($3.35bn) between January and June 2012 to AED10.8bn in the same period last year as sanctions took their toll.
However, the two countries remain locked in a territorial dispute over the ownership of three Gulf islands, which are currently occupied by the Tehran government.
Sheikh Mohammed said though that wider relief from sanctions would mean “everyone will benefit”.
Shk Mohammed is a true leader. he is someone who's realistic, positive and tolerant. Love him so much. I hope peace will prevail in our region and together we will stop all this religious and ethnicity propaganda.
HH Shk Mohammed is an amazing LEADER - Others should learn from him!!! God bless him!!!
His Excellancy Shk Mohammed is the most dynamic,visionary we have seen in the recent history and no wonder Dubai become the epicenter of Peace, development and most sought after tourist destination.I have not seen any other city in the world which is full of life and as vibrant as Dubai and all credit goes to beloved shk Mohammed .He is a true leader who leads from front with a clear understanding of the ground realities ,pragmatism and tollerance towards all. He is a role model for all futuristic leaders and i wish his advice will be imbibed by all true seekers of peace and prosperity to all humanity irrespective of belief and ethnic diversity.Hat off to Him !
History has not seen a leader of the calibre of HH Shaikh Mohammad and I doubt there will ever be another leader like him. If he was leader of the Arab World there would have been no poverty and the Arab World would have been the best performing region
I spent 3 years in the UAE (2005-2008) and if I should say one thing that makes UAE different from Europe is "positive attitude", nobody complains!. I strongly believe this comes from HH Shk Mohammed with his clear vision and concrete results. People can see also that the benefits of this unique development are re-invested and shared in the country. He managed to take the best from both worlds. Pragmatism, tolerance, calm, love are the keys for peace and economic development, lets hope he will inspire all the region.
HH Shk Mohammed is a visionary leader of the Arab World!
Wow! Amazing move. He really made a powerful move.
Like this quote by Dr Martin Luther king Jr.:
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
I beg to differ, Sheikh Mohammad's father was also a visionary and clearly taught his son the same ethics. This man is the answer to a great deal of the Middle East's problems.
If only the World was made up of more people like him.
If Pakistani Malala can win so many western awards including nomination of her name for Nobel peace prize for the show of her heroism with the Afghanis, Sheikh Mohammed deserves much more than that because it is a direct welcome call by an Arab leader to Israel for world peace.
But we know that so called country "Israel" will never make peace. Mr. Cohen above writes "nobody complains", maybe because if you do they put you on the next plane.