July 5, 2022

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Bennett Visits Abu Dhabi Unannounced to Meet UAE’s Ruler

3 min read

On Thursday morning, Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennett flew to Abu Dhabi for a meeting with Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates. No disclosure was made about the visit until Bennett arrived in the UAE capital. Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister of the UAE, was there at the airport to receive the prime minister, as was an honor guard. The premier’s schedule then dictated a meeting with the UAE president for a private discussion in his palace and then a larger meeting related to work. The Prime Minster’s Office issued a statement that ‘regional issues’ were to be discussed by the two leaders.

The topics of discussion were likely to be the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Abraham Accords, proxy forces of Iran and the stalled nuclear talks. Before he boarded the plane, Bennett also stated that he would also offer his consolation for the death of the 73-year-old Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed last month, who was MBZ’s half-brother. The former had suffered a stroke back in 2014, after which MBZ had taken over the role of the UAE’s leader. Back in May, Israeli President Isaac Herzog had flown to Abu Dhabi for offering condolences to MBZ, along with Esawi Frej and Yoaz Hendel, the Regional Cooperation Minister and the Communications Minister. 

Bennett referred to the UAE president as a brave and visionary leader. Speaking before taking the flight, the premier also said that they would ensure the security and growth of the two countries by building yet another floor for strengthening the connection they have established. The prime minister was also full of praise for the censure of Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency a day earlier. This is the third time that leaders of the two nations are meeting within the last six months. Bennett had met the UAE president back in December, which was the first time that a prime minister of Israel visited the country.

The second meeting had occurred in March at Sharm el-Sheikh, the Sinai resort town, where Bennett had met MBZ as well as Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the President of Egypt. They had discussed global developments, which were probably about the Russian-Ukraine conflict. Almost two weeks ago, a free trade agreement was signed between UAE and Israel for boosting economic ties. Recent estimates show that since signing the Abraham Accords that were facilitated by the US, trade between the two countries has reached an impressive $2.5 billion.

A normalization agreement had been signed by the two countries back in 2020 that came to be known as the Abraham Accords. The United States had brokered this deal and it also involved other countries like Morocco, Sudan and Bahrain. Even though there have been some good developments, the relationship still has some friction. The foreign ministry had called upon Israel to put an end to the violations occurring at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and had urged the country to use ‘maximum restraint’ in order to prevent any instability. 

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