COP27: Israeli, Arab leaders 'attend regional meeting' on climate change

COP27: Israeli, Arab leaders 'attend regional meeting' on climate change
The meeting, organised by the presidents of Egypt and Cyprus, included senior ministers from Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.
2 min read
08 November, 2022
The regional meeting at COP27 was reportedly called to discuss climate challenges in the eastern Mediterranean [Getty/file photo]

Several Arab leaders attended a regional meeting on Tuesday attended by a senior Israeli minister, according to reports. 

The meeting at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt reportedly included Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, and Israel's environment minister Tamar Zandberg. 

Lebanon has no formal relations with and does not recognise Israel.

The meeting was reportedly organised by the presidents of Egypt and Cyprus to build regional cooperation against climate change. 

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Israeli news outlets are portraying this as direct contact between the Arab and Israeli officials, although experts dismissed this, saying the meeting was attended by dozens of officials from other states and does not break a long-standing Arab boycott of Israel.

Lebanon and Iraq have no relations with Israel. Lebanon and Israel are technically in a state of war, while Iraq's parliament criminalised any attempts to normalise ties with Israel earlier this year. 

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s office acknowledged the meeting but said it was being overblown by Israeli media. "There was no contact whatsoever with any Israeli official," a statement read.

Israeli media also claimed that the Palestinian and Israeli officials shook hands at the end of the meeting, a gesture Palestinian officials denied.

Tunisia’s Prime Minister Najla Bouden has been subject to criticism after a video purportedly showed her smiling and conversing with Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog during the climate summit.

Tunisia has no formal diplomatic relations with Israel. 

The COP27 climate summit is being held in Egypt, and runs till 18 November.

The summit is taking place in the resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh, against the backdrop of Egypt’s repression of government critics, activists, journalists, and non-governmental organisations. 

Egypt and Israel established full diplomatic relations in 1980.

Israel has been keen to promote normalisation with Arab states, amid the continued occupation of the Palestinian territories.