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UAE says nixing pipeline agreement won’t damage ties with Israel

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The United Arab Emirates has moved to distance itself from a controversial plan to channel oil from the Gulf to Europe via an overland pipeline through Israel, with an official saying Thursday that the government is not a party to the agreement and denying a claim by one of the companies involved that its cancelation would negatively impact burgeoning bilateral ties.

The deal, which was agreed to in the heady days following the UAE’s decision to normalize ties with Israel last year, has been touted as one of the more immediately lucrative products of the Abraham Accords. But it has also faced domestic opposition in Israel over environmental concerns, and in July the government delayed implementation of the deal despite claims that doing so could hurt ties.

In July, an Israeli company involved in the deal, the Europe Asia Pipeline Company, told the High Court that canceling the deal could lead to “significant damage to the foreign relations of the State of Israel,” in response to a petition filed by green groups to declare the agreement invalid.

But according to a senior official at the UAE’s embassy in Israel, the pipeline deal has no bearing on the relationship between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi.

“We have clarified to the Israeli government that this is not a government project. There’s very close communication at the highest level,” the official told the Times of Israel on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Israel is aware that this is not a UAE government project but rather a private commercial deal.”

The official also stressed that while a commercial memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed during state-sponsored events to celebrate the normalization between Israel and the UAE in August, including high-level delegations from Israel and the US visiting Abu Dhabi, the deal itself had nothing to do with the US-brokered accords.

The comments reflect Emirati unease with recent publicity surrounding the pipeline deal. Aiming to build trust with the Jewish state and to advance joint projects in sustainable technology rather than fossil fuels, Abu Dhabi is keen to dispel any suggestion of official........

© The Times of Israel

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