Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met with his Emirati counterpart Abdullah Bin Zayed on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City on Wednesday, the first meeting between the two diplomats.
According to the Foreign Ministry, the two discussed the advances in the Israel-UAE bilateral relationship, including in tourism and trade, since the signing of the Abraham Accords, the US-brokered agreement that normalized ties between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain in 2020. Morocco followed suit and normalized relations with Israel soon after.
Bin Zayed told Cohen he is looking forward to seeing him in November at the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, and noted Israel’s expected broad participation in the gathering.
Cohen also invited Bin Zayed to visit Israel.
In a statement after the meeting, Cohen said they discussed “groundbreaking projects in the Middle East which include the land connectivity that will advance the entire region.”
No senior Emirati officials have been in Israel since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government came to power in late December.
UAE officials have occasionally been vocal in their criticism of Israel.
Last week, UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba said Netanyahu’s government is engaged in a process of de facto annexation of the West Bank, and that it may be up to other countries weighing normalization with Israel to stop it.
Netanyahu was due to visit the UAE shortly after returning to office as his first state visit, but the trip was canceled after National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem, which Abu Dhabi denounced as a “storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard.”
In May, Netanyahu was finally invited to visit the UAE for November’s COP28 conference, after months of delays in securing his first official trip to the Gulf country as premier.
Bin Zayed visited Jerusalem a year ago, marking two years since the signing of the Abraham Accords.
The Emirati foreign minister was also in Israel in March 2022 for the Negev Summit along with Bahraini, Moroccan, Egyptian and US counterparts, where they agreed to create a forum to discuss regional issues. Former Prime Minister Yair Lapid initiated that forum, which has yet to reconvene.