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Bennett meets UAE, Bahrain envoys, is invited to Abu Dhabi for state visit

PM discusses expansion of Abraham Accords with ambassadors, says ‘the stronger the bonds of our countries become, the stronger regional security and stability will become’

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

UAE Ambassador to Israel Muhammad Al Khajah with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, October 19, 2021 (Haim Tzah/GPO)
UAE Ambassador to Israel Muhammad Al Khajah with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, October 19, 2021 (Haim Tzah/GPO)

UAE Ambassador to Israel Muhammad Mahmoud Al Khajah invited Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to Abu Dhabi for an official state visit on Monday, on behalf of UAE Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The invitation was extended during a lunch meeting Bennett held with Khajah and Bahrain Ambassador to Israel Khaled Yousif al-Jalahma.

The three discussed expanding ties between the nations and further strengthening the Abraham Accords.

“The stronger the bonds of our countries become, the stronger regional security and stability will become,” said Bennett.

While he was in New York City in September to address the United Nations General Assembly, Bennett met with UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khalifa al-Marar and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani at his hotel. Bennett told Zayani that he was looking forward to meeting with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at some point in the future.

Ties have been moving forward with the UAE this week. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid held a Zoom meeting late Monday with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, US Secretary of State State Antony Blinken, and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

The four top diplomats discussed “expanding economic and political cooperation in the Middle East and Asia, including through trade, combating climate change, energy cooperation, and increasing maritime security,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price, adding that they also discussed expanding scientific cooperation and combating COVID.

“The secretary reiterated the Biden administration’s support for the Abraham Accords and normalization agreements and discussed future opportunities for collaboration in the region and globally,” he said, referring to deals signed last year between Israel and four Arab nations.

The Abraham Accords, signed in 2020, normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Since then, Morocco and Sudan have also signed normalization agreements with the Jewish state.

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

While relations with the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco have progressed rapidly, ties with Sudan have moved ahead haltingly.

Lapid visited the UAE in June, officially opening Israel’s embassy in Abu Dhabi, the first official visit by an Israeli minister to the Gulf state. In September, Lapid opened Israel’s embassy in Manama, Bahrain, and signed a series of agreements. Israel’s top diplomat opened a mission in Morocco in August.

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