Billionaire Emirati businessman Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor told an Israeli TV network that Iran, Hezbollah, and global terrorism are major threats that must be dealt with and that he hopes Israel will make Hezbollah “disappear from the Earth.”
Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor is the head of Al-Habtoor Group, a major multi-industry company that deals in real estate, education, hospitality, automotive industries, and publishing as well as multiple other areas. He is responsible for one of Dubai’s more iconic buildings, the Burj Al-Arab hotel.
The billionaire had been a public advocate for normalizing ties with Israel even before the United Arab Emirates and the Jewish state signed an agreement to establish formal ties this year.
“I don’t really like the word of peace because we have no argument, we have no dispute between us and the Israelis,” Al-Habtoor said during a televised interview.
Al-Habtoor believes that Iran presents a threat to the whole Middle East. “It supports all the terrorists in the world. I am against war personally, but I am with erasing all the terrorists on Earth,” he said.
He also cited Lebanon’s Hezbollah group as a major regional problem. “Hezbollah must disappear, must disappear from the Earth,” he issued.
“Hezbollah controls everything in Lebanon. If Hezbollah is there, we cannot help,” he said, echoing the opinion of the Saudi Foreign Minister, who recently remarked that Lebanon’s “key problem” is Hezbollah and the main focus of the Lebanese ruling class in covering for it, which has “undermined the state completely.”
“Somebody, someone, some country must get rid of this, and the only one I think can do it which is on the border is Israel,” Al-Habtoor persisted.
When asked if he meant Israel should deal with Hezbollah, Al-Habtoor replied saying: “One hundred percent. These are the only people because they know them. And to make peace with Lebanon, that will be excellent for Israelis and Lebanese to move closer to each other… It will be a great gift.”
Following UAE’s normalization with Israel, Al-Habtoor’s company was one of the first to announce plans for joint business in Israel.
In September, the multi-industry company announced that it will be working with Israeli airlines on launching direct routes between the countries, as well as further as-yet-unannounced collaborations.
With their economies hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the UAE and Israel are hoping for rapid dividends from the normalization deal.
Earlier this month, Abu Dhabi gave its final okay to a visa exemption program with Israel. However, that agreement is still on hold until it’s ratified by the Israeli cabinet and the legislature of Israel before it enters into force.
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