Israel’s prime minister met with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi on Monday as part of the first official visit to the United Arab Emirates by an Israeli leader since the establishment of official relations between the two countries last year.
Naftali Bennett’s trip this week to the Gulf Arab federation comes against the backdrop of nuclear talks between world powers and regional archrival Iran over its nuclear program. Israel has watched with concern as Iran has pushed a hard line against negotiators meeting in Vienna, at once demanding sanctions relief while accelerating its nuclear program.
Bennett’s office said that the prime minister met Monday with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince and de facto ruler of the Emirates.
Israel and the UAE last year signed an deal to normalize relations that was brokered by the Trump administration under the “Abraham Accords,” a series of diplomatic agreements with Arab countries that also included Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
Israel and the UAE have long shared concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear program is meant for peaceful purposes, while Israel says it will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
Bennett took office as prime minister six months ago at the head of a coalition of eight parties united in their opposition to longtime former leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Israeli premier, who arrived in the UAE on Sunday as part of his blitz of regional diplomacy, said after landing that he looks “forward to strengthen the diplomatic relations between the countries.”