Netanyahu postpones trip to UAE after Ben-Gvir Temple Mount visit - report

Netanyahu was supposed to fly to Abu Dhabi next week in his official capacity as prime minister.

 Israeli Prime Minister and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a Likud party meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem on January 2, 2023. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Israeli Prime Minister and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a Likud party meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem on January 2, 2023.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not, in the end, fly to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates next week as he had originally planned, Channel 12 reported on Tuesday.

The announcement that the visit would not take place came hours after National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the Temple Mount, drawing wall-to-wall international condemnations, including from the UAE. 

Netanyahu had planned to travel to the UAE for his visit there as prime minister to meet with the Crown Prince and ruler of the emirates Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. It would have been Netanyahu's first public visit to the Gulf state. 

 National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Temple Mount on Tuesday, January 3, 2023 (credit: PUBLIC SECURITY MINISTRY) National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Temple Mount on Tuesday, January 3, 2023 (credit: PUBLIC SECURITY MINISTRY)

According to the report, the official reason the visit - which was to take place as early as next week - was postponed was to allow the governments to work together to ensure a successful trip at a later date. 

In his previous term which ended in 2021, Netanyahu helped broker and secure the Abraham Accords with the Trump administration that saw Israel normalize relations with the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco. 

In its statement, the UAE condemned Israel for allowing Ben-Gvir to visit the site and "reiterated its firm position on the need to provide full protection for the Al-Aqsa mosque and halt serious and provocative violations taking place there."

The UAE government "underscored the need to respect the custodial role of Jordan over the holy sites and endowments in accordance with international law and the historical situation at hand, and not to compromise the authority of the Jerusalem Endowment Administration and Al-Aqsa Mosque" and called on Israel "to assume responsibility for reducing escalation and instability in the region."