Uzi Landau 248 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Jerusalem for the first time sent a Cabinet minister to meetings in the United Arab Emirates, a Persian Gulf country that has no diplomatic ties with Israel.
National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau told The Associated Press on Sunday he did not meet with any Emirati officials while attending a conference of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), based in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi. The agency's activities are open to Israel because it is a member state.
Landau said the Israeli delegation entered the country after "special arrangements" were made.
"They had to do it since they committed themselves to making it possible for all member states, with or without relations, to participate in the agency's activities," Landau said in a phone interview from Abu Dhabi.
Last year the UAE denied entry to Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe'er to an international tournament in Dubai. The UAE officials said Pe'er was denied a visa because of anti-Israel sentiments in the Gulf state following last winter's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
The tournament was fined a record $300,000 for refusing Pe'er entry. Last week, the UAE authorities sent a written assurance to the World Tennis Association that all players who qualify for the 2010 championships will be allowed into the country and welcome to play in Dubai.
On Sunday, an official with the UAE's Foreign Ministry told The Associated Press that allowing Landau to participate in the agency's activities was "part of obligations in hosting (the agency) in the UAE."
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press. He added, that Israel's participation in the international event in the oil-rich Abu Dhabi would have "no implications or indications for bilateral links between the UAE and any other party."
IRENA was established a year ago with a mission to promote sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy. In June, Abu Dhabi was selected as the agency's headquarters.
It's the first ever international organization based in the UAE.