Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday met with the UAE's leader Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the first-ever visit to the country by an Israeli leader, with the two expected to discuss Iran as well as bilateral ties.
Shared concern about Iranian activity was reportedly among the reasons for the formalization of Israel-UAE relations last year under a U.S.-led regional initiative known as the Abraham Accords.
With world powers now trying to renew an Iran nuclear deal, Abu Dhabi last week sent a top envoy to its Persian neighbor. A U.S. delegation is due in UAE this week to warn Emirati banks against non-compliance with Iran sanctions.
The premier was welcomed on Sunday to the kingdom by the ruler's younger brother — Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan — and the two held a short meeting, in which they discussed the importance of tolerance and religious moderation.
Sources on the trip said the Emiratis have expressed interest in the prime minister’s background as a hi-tech entrepreneur, adding that Bennett's meetings will seek to emphasize economic ties between Israel and the UAE.
The prime minister is also set to meet with the UAE's Industry and Advanced Technology Minister Dr. Sultan Al Jaber and Culture Minister Noura Al Kaabi on Monday, as well as a possible meeting with Khaldoon al Mubarak, CEO of the Mubadala Investment Company, the Emirati sovereign wealth fund.
In an interview with Emirati state media WAM, Bennett said the Abraham Accords established a "new, deep and solid structure for diplomatic, economic and cultural relations" in the region based on cooperation.
"In my opinion, this is what the peace and the new reality this region is witnessing, and we are working together to ensure a better future for our children," he said.
"The relations between the two countries have strengthened in all fields, and I am very satisfied with that, as many cooperation agreements were concluded in the fields of trade, research and development, and cyber security, health, education, aviation and more, and I look forward to the continued development and consolidation of relations. Our cooperation provides unprecedented economic opportunities not only for us, but for more countries, which is another element for enhancing stability and prosperity in this region."
At the end of the interview, Bennett concluded that "the message that I wish to deliver to the UAE leaders and Emirati citizens is that mutual partnership and friendship are natural. We are neighbors and cousins. We are the grandchildren of Prophet Abraham. The period since the signing of the Abraham Peace Accords is the best evidence."