Bennett to Embark on Surprise Trip to UAE

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters/Hamodia) —
Emirati and Israeli flags fly upon the arrival of Israeli and U.S. delegates at Abu Dhabi International Airport, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in August 2020. (REUTERS/Christopher Pike/File Photo)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will travel to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday and meet the Gulf state’s de facto ruler in the highest-level visit since the countries formalized relations last year.

The trip comes amid heightened regional tension as world powers’ try to renew a nuclear deal with Iran. Israel and some Gulf Arabs share concern over Iranian activities in the region.

“I will be going out today to the United Arab Emirates, in the first visit ever by an Israeli Prime Minister,” Bennett told a meeting of his Cabinet on Sunday.

There was no immediate confirmation from Abu Dhabi.

The UAE along with Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco moved toward normal ties with Israel under a U.S.-sponsored initiative dubbed the “Abraham Accords” in reference to the biblical patriarch revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Bennett’s trip on Sunday would be the first by an Israeli premier to any of those four countries.

He will meet Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan on Monday, Bennett’s office said.

The two leaders will discuss deepening ties, with an emphasis on economic issues that will contribute to prosperity, welfare and strengthening stability between the countries, the Israeli statement added.

Their meeting marked a big step toward the rapprochement between the two countries, after years of caution by the Emiratis, who view Iran as a national security threat.

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