Friday, May 27

The Israeli president visits the Emirates, a first

Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday for the first official visit by an Israeli head of state to the Gulf Arab country after the normalization of relations between the two states in 2020.

Invited by Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto ruler of the country, Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal arrived in the Emirati capital at 12 noon for a two-day visit.

On September 15, 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain became the first Gulf Arab countries to publicly normalize their relations with Israel, at the instigation of Donald Trump, then President of the United States.

On his departure from Israel, Isaac Herzog spoke of a “historic” visit, claiming to bring “a message of peace for the entire region”, according to a statement from his office. The Israeli president is also due to meet Foreign Minister Abdallah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, other Emirati officials and representatives of the local Jewish community.

On Monday, Isaac Herzog will travel to Dubai – another emirate of the federation – where he will meet Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, head of government and Minister of Defence. He will visit the World Expo 2020 site for Israel’s National Day.

Historic agreements between Israel and Arab countries

This “historic visit (…) will improve bilateral relations between the two countries, with the aim of signing important trade agreements soon”, tweeted for his part on Saturday the ambassador of the Emirates in Israel, Mohamed Al-Khaja.

The agreements to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates were signed by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and approved by the current ruling coalition, then in the opposition camp. These “Abraham Accords” had also resulted in similar pacts with Morocco and Sudan.

They have been denounced by the Palestinians as a “treason”, the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict having long remained a condition for any normalization of relations between Arab countries and the Jewish state. The Emirates have since normalized a series of agreements with Israel ranging from tourism to aviation to financial services.

In December, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made a first official visit to the Emirates to “deepen cooperation in all areas”.

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