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Israeli President Visits UAE Amid Regional Tensions

Israel's President Isaac Herzog, seated second from the left, joined by First Lady Michal, meets UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan Amos Ben

DUBAI: This is the first time that an Israeli president has made an official visit to the United Arab Emirates and visited the prominent crown prince of Abu Dhabi, a symbol of growing relations between the two countries as tensions escalate in the Middle East.

In the fall of 2020, the UAE and Israel normalised relations, as part of a series of US-brokered diplomatic agreements between Israel and Arab governments that had previously shunned official contact with Israel because of its decades-long war with Palestinians.

President Isaac Herzog met with Emirati de facto leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The Israeli leader was greeted royally at the palace, according to the UAE’s state-run WAM news agency, with the Israeli national song playing and a 21-gun salute booming.

During the almost two-hour meeting, Herzog pushed additional nations in the region to recognise Israel and denounced Yemen’s Houthi rebels’ recent aerial strikes on Abu Dhabi, which represented a major regional escalation.

“I want to emphasise that we fully support your security concerns and that we reject any attack on your sovereignty in all forms and languages,” Herzog told Sheikh Mohammed, according to his office.

Herzog was also scheduled to meet with members of the country’s insignificant but rising Jewish ex-pat community and to attend Expo 2022 in Dubai on Monday where Israel will host a series of activities at its national pavilion.

In Israel’s parliamentary system, where the prime minister wields the greatest authority, the president serves mostly as a ceremonial national unifier. Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett paid his first official visit to the Gulf Arab sheikhdom, where he discussed a range of issues with Sheikh Mohammed.

Both Herzog and Bennett’s excursions to the dictatorial UAE were heavily censored in the media. The Emirati government has not invited media to the palace where discussions are held, and no press conferences have been scheduled. The only way to learn about the trips is through carefully worded comments in state-run media. Israel, a parliamentary democracy, has not invited any Israeli media to accompany either leader on their tours.

Shortly before the flight, Herzog stated that he hoped to carry the message of peace from Israel to the United Arab Emirates, as well as to other peoples in the area, during his tour.

“The demonstration of Israeli-Emirati collaboration comes at a critical juncture in the Middle East’s history.

Yemen’s seven-year civil conflict has escalated, spreading to Emirati territory for the first time this month. Iran-backed rebels battling the Saudi-led coalition claimed drone and missile assaults against Abu Dhabi, one of which killed three employees in an industrial sector and another which got intercepted and dispersed missile shards across the metropolis.

Residents were stunned by the assaults, which shattered their feeling of security amid the region’s globalised commercial powerhouse. This week, the Houthis have vowed more strikes.

Sheikh Mohammed informed Herzog during their discussion that Israel’s response to the Houthi attacks on the UAE shows their shared understanding of the challenges to regional security and peace, particularly those posed by militias, as per Herzog’s office.

Aimen Bukhari
Written By

Works at The Truth International Magazine. My area of interest includes international relations, peace & conflict studies, qualitative & quantitative research in social sciences, and world politics. Reach@ aimen.bukhari@tti.org.pk

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