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UAE embassy in Tel Aviv hosts far-right MP Itamar Ben-Gvir

Kahanist MP says warm handshake with Abu Dhabi's envoy is 'what real peace looks like'
Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir shaking the hand of UAE's ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja during the UAE's 51st National Day event, 1 December 2022 (Screengrab)

The far-right Israeli parliament member Itamar Ben-Gvir was hosted by the United Arab Emirates embassy in Tel Aviv on Thursday and warmly welcomed by ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja.

Ben-Gvir, set to become Israel's next national security minister, was attending the UAE's 51st National Day event with other guests.

He was photographed shaking Al Khaja's hand, surrounded by guests and photographers, at Tel Aviv's Hilton Hotel, where ambassadors, politicians and public figures attended the event.

He shared a photo of the meeting and said: "This is what real peace looks like."

According to Israeli news website Ynet, Ben-Gvir said at the reception: “The event today teaches that it’s possible to make true peace without giving up territory and without surrendering to terror, just making peace between people who like each other, without making concessions.”

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It is the first major appearance of Ben-Gvir at an event hosted by a foreign country since his political alliance, Religious Zionism, came third in the Israeli election in November and won 14 seats.

The Jewish Power party leader was at the event along with Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, who was recognised as a "guest of honour". 

Al Khaja, appointed as the UAE's first ambassador to Israel in February 2021, added a few Hebrew words to his speech, while Netanyahu ended his with "Inshallah", newspaper Haaretz reported.

Ben-Gvir is a Kahanist settler activist-turned-politician who is known for his anti-Palestinian racism and pro-settlement stances. 

Israel and the UAE established diplomatic ties in a US-sponsored agreement in 2020 under Netanyahu's premiership. 

The two countries have enjoyed close ties since, including holding joint naval military exercises and Israeli air defence system sales to Abu Dhabi.

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