In the first-ever visit by an Israeli leader to a Gulf nation, Naftali Bennett arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday to meet the nation’s top officials.
Bennett was welcomed by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed at Royal Airport in Abu Dhabi.
Bennett said: “I appreciate your warm hospitality. This is a wonderful welcome. I am very excited to be here on the first official visit by an Israeli leader here. I look forward to strengthening the relationship between our two countries.”
He also said the potential for growth between the two countries was unlimited. “The volume of mutual trade between us has expedited within a few months, with limitless future opportunities to develop it.
“Israel, like the UAE, is a regional hub of trade. Our co-operation provides unprecedented economic opportunities not only for us but for more countries, which is another element for enhancing stability and prosperity in this region.”
He said the fields of health and food security “will constitute a major part of the co-operation between us.”
“The Israeli pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai embodies an optimistic outlook for tomorrow and a boundless quest to make it better, not only for us, but for our friends and allies all over the world in various fields, and this is a fundamental value of Judaism,” he said.
In an interview with UAE’s News Agency, WAM, Bennett said: “In my opinion, this is what the peace and the new reality this region is witnessing, and we are working together to ensure a better future for our children.”
The UAE along with Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco normalised relations with Israel after the U.S.-brokered “Abraham Accords” were signed in 2020. The accords were strongly condemned by Palestinians who called it a betrayal.
Bennett said: “The relations between the two countries have strengthened in all fields, and I am very satisfied with that, as many cooperation agreements were concluded in the fields of trade, research and development, and cyber security, health, education, aviation and more, and I look forward to the continued development and consolidation of relations.
“The message that I wish to deliver to the UAE leaders and Emirati citizens is that mutual partnership and friendship are natural. We are neighbours and cousins. We are the grandchildren of Prophet Abraham. The period since the signing of the Abraham Peace Accords is the best evidence.”
Later, the Israeli Prime Minister met with the UAE’s Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The two leaders are expected to discuss the Iran-nuclear deal and bilateral issues. The two countries have shared concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Israel has earlier said that it is determined to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Earlier this month Israel has dispatched its diplomates to major capitals of the world to garner support for action against Iran.