Israel minister attends renewables event in UAE
Published Sunday 19/01/2014 (updated) 20/01/2014 14:20
Visitors check solar panels at a stand promoting Solar Systems at the
EnergyTech exhibition in Tel Aviv on Oct. 28, 2010 (AFP Jack Guez)
ABU DHABI (AFP) -- Israeli Energy Minister Silvan Shalom attended a meeting Saturday of the International Renewable Energy Agency in the United Arab Emirates, a country with which it has no diplomatic relations.
During its two-day meeting, the assembly is to discuss a draft roadmap for achieving a 36 percent share for renewables in the world energy mix by 2030.
A member of the Israeli delegation told AFP that "Shalom is representing Israel, which is taking part in the meeting like all the other member states of this international agency."
However, this is the first time member Israel has sent a minister to an IRENA meeting since the organization, whose permanent seat is in Abu Dhabi, was founded in 2009.
The Israeli delegate declined to comment on whether Shalom hoped to hold any contacts on the sidelines with Gulf Arab officials.
Israel has quietly been seeking the alliance of Gulf monarchies, which like Israel are concerned over Iran's rising regional power.
In May, Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed Israel had allocated a budget for a diplomatic mission in one of the Gulf states, without specifying which.
The UAE hosted an Israeli delegation for the first time in 2003 for a meeting of the International Monetary Fund.
But, unlike fellow Gulf states Oman and Qatar, it has never hosted an Israeli trade office.
Both missions have since been closed -- that in Oman in 2000, and the Qatar one in 2009.
The Gulf Arab states have conditioned normalization of relations with Israel on its acceptance of the 2002 plan drafted by Saudi Arabia for peace with the Palestinians.
Israel's relations with the UAE have been clouded by the January 2010 death in a Dubai hotel of Hamas military commander Mahmud al-Mabhuh in what investigators believe was an assassination by Israel's Mossad spy agency.
At Saturday's meeting, IRENA Director General Adnan Amin told delegates from 66 countries and representatives from 120 regional and international organizations that "technology already exists to double the share of renewables by 2030 and even surpass it, and ... the transition can be cost neutral.
"Compared to energy systems based on fossil fuel, renewable energy ... is better for our health, creates more jobs and provides an effective route to reducing carbon emission -- a goal that becomes increasingly urgent by the day," he added.