Mar 3, 2022 - World

U.S. enlisted Israel to lobby UAE to condemn Russian invasion

The UN General Assembly as the vote concluded. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

At the request of the Biden administration, the Israeli government lobbied the United Arab Emirates to vote for a UN resolution condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, after the UAE had abstained in a previous vote, U.S. and Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: Both countries initially sat on the fence, but Israel is now actively supporting the U.S. opposition to the invasion while the UAE ultimately voted to condemn it.

Flashback: When a resolution to condemn the invasion came before the UN Security Council last Friday, Israel refused to co-sponsor it (drawing a private rebuke from the U.S.) and the UAE, a member of the council, abstained despite U.S. pressure.

  • The UAE's decision to abstain was largely due to frustrations with what it saw as a slow U.S. response to the Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi six weeks earlier.
  • Israel, meanwhile, has balanced its response to the invasion with its security relationship with Russia over neighboring Syria.
  • When the resolution came before the full General Assembly on Wednesday, 141 countries voted for it while just 5 stood behind Russia.

Behind the scenes: U.S. officials were disappointed by the UAE’s abstention last Friday and were concerned the Emiratis would abstain again on Wednesday. Senior U.S. officials decided to ask Israel for help.

  • Ahead of Wednesday's vote, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid approached his Emirati counterpart, Abdullah Bin Zayed, and told him that Israel believed voting to condemn Russia would be the right thing to do, a senior Israeli official told me.
  • Israeli officials also passed that same message through several other channels.

What they're saying: U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides thanked Israel publicly for its efforts without directly mentioning the UAE.

  • “Enormous thanks to Israel for helping rally more members to stand with Ukraine in today’s historic UN vote," he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
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