Israel’s foreign ministry has launched a Twitter account to reach out to Gulf countries, with which it historically has had little official diplomatic interaction.
In one of its first tweets, sent July 18, Israel in the GCC said its aim is to serve as a “virtual embassy” for the region.
— Israel in the GCC (@IsraelintheGCC)
Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the foreign ministry who is helping to run the Twitter account, invited tweets from anyone in GCC countries “on any subject matter, whether business, science, politics or society.” He also told the National:
“Of course we recognise the political circumstances prevailing in this part of the region and other parts of it, and that will not be an easy task to resolve, but you have to start somewhere and show your goodwill.”
Palmor added that the launching of the account was unrelated to latest efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Still, it is hard to separate Israel’s relationship with the people of the Gulf from the Palestinian question. Qatar, for example, hosted an Israeli trade office in Doha for more than a decade, but shuttered it in 2009 following Israel’s invasion of Gaza.
Trade to Israel is banned by the GCC countries out of solidarity for Palestine, but business ties have been maintained in clandestine ways, to the tune of half a billion dollars annually, a Tel Aviv University political economy professor told Financial Times:
“The potential for Israel in trade with the GCC is immense should it have normal relations with the GCC, which could make the latter one of Israel’s biggest export markets,” said (Yitzhak Gal).