JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel presents himself as a global leader who is in a different league than his rivals — one who can keep Israel safe and promote its interests on the world stage. But strains in his relations with two important Arab allies, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, have dented that image in the fraught run-up to Israel’s do-over election.
Mr. Netanyahu’s personal ties with King Abdullah II of Jordan have long been frosty, even though their countries have had diplomatic relations for decades, and recently took a turn for the worse. And the Israeli leader’s efforts to capitalize on his new partnership with the United Arab Emirates ahead of the close-fought election on Tuesday have injected a sour note into the budding relationship between the two countries.
Senior Emirati officials sent clear signals over the past week that the Persian Gulf country would not be drawn into Mr. Netanyahu’s campaign for re-election, a rebuke that dented his much-vaunted foreign policy credentials.
Mr. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving prime minister, has always portrayed himself as the only candidate who can protect Israel’s security and ensure its survival in what has mostly been a hostile region. He has touted peaceful relations with moderate Arab states, including Jordan and the Emirates, as crucial to defend Israel’s borders and as a buttress against Iranian ambitions in the region.
on trial on corruption charges.
The first signs of trouble came after plans for Mr. Netanyahu’s first open visit to the Emirates were canceled. Israel and the United Arab Emirates reached a landmark agreement last August to normalize their relations, the first step in a broader regional process that came to be known as the Abraham Accords and which was a signature foreign policy achievement of the Trump administration.
Mr. Netanyahu was supposed to fly to the Emirates’ capital, Abu Dhabi, on March 11 for a whirlwind meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the country’s de facto ruler. But the plan went awry amid a separate diplomatic spat with Jordan, one of the first Arab countries to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.
The day before the scheduled trip, a rare visit by the Jordanian crown prince to the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem — one of Islam’s holiest sites — was scuttled because of a disagreement between Jordan and Israel over security arrangements for the prince.
wrote on Twitter.
“The UAE will not be a part in any internal electioneering in Israel, now or ever,” he added.