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Herzog to represent Israel at funeral of late UAE leader

President to meet new Abu Dhabi ruler ‘alongside other leaders’ during brief trip to Gulf state; Lapid congratulates MBZ on selection as president

President Isaac Herzog meets with then-Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on January 30, 2022. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog meets with then-Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on January 30, 2022. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog is scheduled to travel to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday to attend the funeral of Emirati leader Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

According to a statement issued by his office Saturday, Herzog will be in the United Arab Emirates for several hours and “alongside other leaders” will meet with the new president, Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, commonly known by his initials as MBZ.

The visit will be the president’s second to the UAE since he took office last year.

Herzog on Friday called the late Emirati ruler’s death “a great loss for our friends in the UAE and for the whole region.”

“Sheikh Khalifa’s bold leadership contributed so much to the advancement of the UAE and its people and to the growing partnership between our countries and is a great legacy for his successors,” he said.

Also Saturday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid congratulated MBZ on his selection as the new leader of the UAE following the death of his brother.

“Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nayhan is continuing the path of his father and brother who founded the country on the basis of tolerance and peace, and has shown his leadership in redesigning the Middle East for partnership, peace and cooperation for the wellbeing of the next generations,” Lapid said.

He added that the Jewish state will keep working with the new Emirati ruler “for a better world and fraternity between the nations.”

The new ruler’s half-brother, Sheikh Khalifa, 73, died after battling an illness for several years.

“The Ministry of Presidential Affairs condoles the people of the UAE and the Islamic world… on the passing of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Friday, May 13,” the official WAM news agency said.

In this file photo taken on April 30, 2013 Emirati President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan attends a ceremonial welcome for his state visit in the grounds of Windsor Castle, Berkshire, west of London (Dan Kitwood / POOL / AFP)

The ministry announced a 40-day period of mourning and a three-day suspension of work in all ministries and the private sector beginning Friday, including flags to be flown at half-staff.

The late head of state was rarely seen in public since a stroke in January 2014, and the country has largely been ruled by MBZ.

MBZ led the country’s normalization process with Israel in 2020.

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