Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett makes surprise visit to the United Arab Emirates.
Visit comes after two nations signed a free-trade agreement last month.
UAE normalised relations with Israel in 2020 through the Abraham Accords, which were brokered by the US.
ABU DHABI – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with the leader of the United Arab Emirates during a surprise visit to the UAE on Thursday, a day after the UN’s nuclear watchdog issued a public rebuke to Iran.
Bennett’s second trip to the UAE, which normalised relations with Israel in 2020, comes after the two nations signed a free-trade agreement last month and as his ruling coalition faces a strong challenge from the right.
The travel, which Bennett’s office described as a “quick visit” at the invitation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the UAE’s newly appointed president, had gone unannounced.
Bennett praised the International Atomic Energy Agency for its motion denouncing Iran’s lack of cooperation with the UN before departing Israel.
The proposal, which was approved by 30 members of the IAEA board with only Russia and China voting against it, was the first to criticise Iran since 2020, and it came as efforts to revive an agreement aimed at limiting Tehran’s nuclear ambitions stalled.
According to a statement from Bennett’s office, “we see here a definite stand by the countries of the world regarding the separation between good and evil, as they plainly indicate that Iran is concealing things.”
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Concerns about Iran, notably its purported nuclear programme, were widely seen as a factor in the UAE’s decision to form links with Israel through the Abraham Accords, which were brokered by the US.
The UAE was the first Gulf country and just the third Arab country to normalise relations with Israel.
Bennett and Sheikh Mohammed spoke about investment, food security, and “other critical sectors,” according to the UAE’s official WAM news agency.
Bennett also offered his condolences on the death last month of Sheikh Khalifa, the UAE’s long-ailing ruler, who was succeeded by Sheikh Mohammed, the country’s de facto ruler.
The May free-trade agreement, Israel’s first with an Arab country, eliminated customs taxes on more than 95 percent of goods traded between the two countries.
According to Israeli data, two-way trade was worth $900 million last year. The free-trade agreement negotiations began in November and were completed after four rounds of discussions.
Bennett and Sheikh Mohammed met twice last year, in Abu Dhabi in December and in Egypt.
On Monday Bennett’s government, which recently lost its majority in parliament, suffered a key opposition defeat — over upholding Israeli law in settlements in the occupied West Bank — that called its stability into question.
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