Israeli Prime Minister on an unprecedented visit to the United Arab Emirates

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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett paid an official visit to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, made possible by the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Gulf state in 2020.

The visit is historic: Naftali Bennett arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, December 12, for the “first visit by an Israeli prime minister” to that Gulf state, which normalized its ties with the Jewish state in 2020, the government leaders’ office said.

Naftali Bennett is scheduled to speak with the Emirates’ strongman, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on Monday on “strengthening ties between the two countries,” the office of chief government had previously announced.

The two leaders are also scheduled to discuss “economic and regional issues contributing to prosperity, prosperity and increased stability” between Israel and the Emirates.

This visit comes as negotiations to save the Iran nuclear deal in Vienna have resumed between Tehran and the major powers (US, Russia, China, France, Germany, UK). Those talks were condemned by Israel, which urged Washington to end them and take “concrete action” against Iran.

The deal, which offered Tehran the lifting of some of the sanctions stifling its economy in exchange for a drastic reduction in its nuclear program under tight UN scrutiny, has been doomed since the United States unilaterally withdrew the text in 2018. Washington reinstated the sanctions and, in response, pressured Tehran to back off most of its commitments.

The Emirates, which share a hostility towards Iran with Israel, remain a key economic partner of the Islamic Republic.

In early December, Emirates National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed visited Tehran. This was the first visit by a senior Emirati official since Iran-Saudi Arabia broke ties in 2016 after Riyadh’s religious opponents executed an influential Shiite. As a result, the Emirates reduced their diplomatic relations with Tehran.

A number of agreements already signed

On September 15, 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain became the first Gulf Arab states to publicly normalize relations with Israel, goaded by then-US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kuchner, the architect of the strategy.

These “Abraham Accords” had also led to similar pacts with Morocco and Sudan. Signed by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and endorsed by Israel’s current ruling coalition, then in opposition, they were denounced as treason by the Palestinians, as the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long remained a condition of any normalization of relations between Arab countries and the Jewish state.

In late June, during an unprecedented official visit by Emirati officials to the Emirates, the chief of Israeli diplomacy, Yaïr Lapid, inaugurated the first Israeli Gulf Embassy in Abu Dhabi, as well as a consulate in Dubai, and did the same in Tel Aviv.

Since normalization, the Emirates, which decades ago began diversifying their economies and are less and less dependent on oil, have signed a series of deals with Israel ranging from tourism to aviation to financial services.

With AFP

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