By Zain Khalil
JERUSALEM (AA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday denied plans to visit the United Arab Emirates this week, saying he will travel to the Gulf country after Israeli elections scheduled for March 23 are over.
"I will not travel to Abu Dhabi before the elections. I will go there later," Netanyahu, who is head of the Likud party, said in an interview with Israeli Army Radio.
Earlier in the day, the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom reported that Netanyahu was set to visit the UAE on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Channel 12 said the UAE has expressed its discontent regarding Netanyahu's use of the name of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in his election campaign.
According to Channel 12, the UAE was surprised by Netanyahu's statement Monday that Al Nahyan had "volunteered" to invest 40 billion shekels (approximately $12 billion) in Israel.
For his part, Anwar Gargash, the advisor to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and former minister of state for foreign affairs, tweeted early Wednesday, distancing his country from interfering in Israeli elections.
“From the UAE’s perspective, the purpose of the Abrahamic Accords is to provide a robust strategic foundation to foster peace and prosperity with the State of Israel and in the wider region. The UAE will not be a part in any internal electioneering in Israel, now or ever,” the tweet said.
Since the announcement of normalization of relations between the two countries in August last year, Netanyahu has several times postponed planned visits to the UAE.
The latest postponement happened last week when Jordan refused to allow Netanyahu’s flight to cross over its airspace.
*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar