UAE Foreign Minister Expects Normalization With Israel to Continue Despite Change in Government
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed told Axios on Tuesday that the process of normalization with Israel will continue despite the recent change of government in the Jewish state.
The interview, the first bin Zayed has given to an Israeli journalist, took place during Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s visit to the Gulf country and the inauguration of the new Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Lapid also met with bin Zayed for the first time and singed a trade agreement.
Bin Zayed said the lengthy election and coalition-building process in Israel worried him at first, because, “I was concerned Israelis are going to go through a phase of looking inwards and wasting the current momentum.”
“But I think Lapid’s first call to anyone was to me,” he noted.
Bin Zayed also expressed hope that the US will continue to back the normalization process, noting that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has used the term “Abraham Accords” to refer to the treaty of normalization, though the Biden administration has generally not done so.
“What’s the rationale? … There was no rationale. Zero,” bin Zayed said. “You like it. We like it. Part of the problem is history, culture and religion. So actually solving it through a religious, cultural, historical magnate is something we should all celebrate.”
The foreign minister also delved into the Palestinian issue, saying the Accords should be a way to bring the Palestinians into a peace process.
Israel, he said, should seek to strengthen the Palestinian Authority against Hamas, work to reconstruct the Gaza Strip, and lessen tensions in Jerusalem.
“I believe that sooner or later, Israel would have to solve the Palestinian issue,” he said. “This is a big challenge for you.”