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Bennett and UAE crown prince discuss bilateral ties in first call

Prime minister calls de facto ruler Mohammed Bin Zayed al Nahyan to wish him well on Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, leaders agree to meet in the future

United Arab Emirates Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, Oct. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
United Arab Emirates Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, Oct. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke Friday with United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, in his first call with the de facto ruler of the Gulf kingdom since becoming prime minister.

Bennett called bin Zayed to congratulate him on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and to discuss the burgeoning ties between the two countries, according to a statement from Bennett’s office.

“The prime minister thanked the crown prince for opening an embassy in Israel and for hosting the official visit of Foreign Minister Yair Lapid,” the statement said.

Bennett also noted the importance of the strategic relations between Israel and the UAE on a wide range of issues, saying that the attitude of the UAE toward Israel “was an important change and was an inspiration to other countries and leaders in the region.”

“The two agreed to be in contact and meet in the future,” the statement said.

The UAE confirmed the conversation and said that the two leaders “discussed cooperation relations between the two countries and ways to enhance them, in addition to a number of issues. Regional and international interests.”

“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan also congratulated His Excellency on assuming the position of Prime Minister of Israel, expressing his aspiration to work together for peace, stability and development for the benefit of the region and all its peoples and the world at large,” the statement said.

Last month Lapid traveled to the UAE to open Israel’s embassy there, the first official visit by an Israeli minister to the Gulf state.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) and UAE Minister of State Ahmed Al Sayegh (L) meet in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, June 29, 2021 (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

The trip came nearly a year after the countries announced they would normalize ties, and after months during which planned visits by Israeli officials were stymied by a series of issues, ranging from health crises to diplomatic scuffles.

Israel and the Emirates announced in August that they would normalize diplomatic relations, bringing over a decade of covert ties into the open. Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco later also joined the US-brokered Abraham Accords, and other countries were also rumored to be in talks, though none have come to fruition.

Inaugurating the embassy, Lapid went out of his way to thank former prime minister and political rival Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he called “the architect of the Abraham Accords and who worked tirelessly to bring them about.”

He also thanked former US president Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden.

The new government has made it a priority to push ahead with the Abraham Accords. Lapid earlier this week confirmed that he will travel to Morocco for an official visit, and that his Moroccan counterpart will visit Israel following the renewal of direct flights between Rabat and Tel Aviv later this month.

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