Israeli Energy Minister Silvan Shalom attended a meeting Saturday of the International Renewable Energy Agency in the United Arab Emirates, which has no diplomatic relations with the occupying force.
It is the first time Israel has sent a minister to a meeting of IRENA since its foundation in 2009.
“Shalom is representing Israel, which is taking part in the meeting like all the other member states of this international agency,” a member of the Israeli delegation told AFP.
He 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, in part because they share a common enemy: Iran.
In May, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed that 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.
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 carried out by Israel’s Mossad spy agency.
During its two-day meeting, the IRENA general assembly is to discuss a draft road map for achieving a 36 percent share for renewables in the world energy mix by 2030.