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June 9, 2022 4:50 pm

Israeli PM Meets With UAE President in Snap Visit to Abu Dhabi

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and UAE President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi on June 9, 2022. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett went on a snap visit to Abu Dhabi on Thursday, where he met with President Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed before returning home.

The leaders met privately for “approximately two hours” and later held a working lunch with their delegations. They discussed “a series of economic and regional issues,” and spoke of “advancing the regional architecture,” according to a statement from the Israeli premier’s office.

Bennett, who was welcomed with an honor guard, also expressed his condolences on last month’s passing of Bin Zayed’s half-brother, the late UAE President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

This is the third recent meeting between Bin Zayed and Bennett, who became the first Israeli prime minister to visit the UAE this past December. The two then connected during a trilateral summit hosted by Egypt in March, and “maintain regular contact,” Bennett’s office said.

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Trade between Israel and the UAE, which normalized relations as part of the Abraham Accords brokered by Washington in 2020, grew by hundreds of millions of dollars in the past year. Last week, the countries signed a free trade agreement that seeks to boost annual bilateral trade to over $10 billion.

Following news on Wednesday that the Dubai International Chamber of Commerce will establish an office in Tel Aviv, Hamad Buamim, head of Dubai Chambers, said that Israel was expected to become one of Dubai’s top 10 trading partners “within a few years.”

The countries have also been brought closer due to a shared desire to limit Iranian influence in the region, and have reportedly lobbied Washington, in coordination, to put forward security guarantees should the nuclear agreement with Tehran be revived — a possibility that seems increasingly remote. Before taking off to Abu Dhabi, Bennett commended the International Atomic Energy Agency for passing a resolution critical of Iran, and pledged to “not let up on this issue.”

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