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What We're Watching: Israeli PM tours the United Arab Emirates

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett walks with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan during a welcoming ceremony upon his arrival in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates December 12, 2021.

Israeli PM meets Emirati prince. Naftali Bennett landed Sunday in Abu Dhabi, marking the first-ever official visit by an Israeli Prime Minister to the United Arab Emirates. Bennett met with Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, the de-facto Emirati leader. The visit is a sign of the endurance of four groundbreaking diplomatic agreements between Israel and Arab states brokered by the Trump administration in 2020. Since then, previously covert relations between the UAE and Israel have warmed significantly: Abu Dhabi has become a popular tourist destination for thousands of Israelis, while bilateral trade reached a whopping $600 million in the first seven months of this year. In the past, the Emiratis made diplomatic ties with Israel contingent on peace efforts with the Palestinians, but Bennett’s visit highlights the evolved priorities of the Gulf states, now more concerned with partnering with Israel to contain a nuclear Iran. The Saudis, for their part, share strategic interests with their Gulf partners — and have been cooperating with Israel on intelligence and security behind closed doors for years. But so far, Riyadh has been unwilling to formalize diplomatic ties with Israel for a variety of reasons, including unfavorable public opinion toward Israel.


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