According to his office, Israeli President Isaac Herzog landed in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday for the first time, trying to bolster Gulf ties at a time of heightened regional tensions as Western powers strive to resurrect a nuclear agreement with Iran.
In 2020, the UAE and Bahrain signed the “Abraham Accords,” normalisation accords with Israel mediated by the US. The two Gulf states, as well as Israel, are concerned about Iran and its regional allies.
President Herzog’s jet sailed over Saudi Arabia en way to the UAE, which he described as a “very poignant experience.” Although Riyadh and Israel do not have diplomatic relations, Israel has stated that it would prefer to create a relationship with the country that is home to Islam’s two holiest sites.
In Israel, the presidency is mostly a ceremonial position. In December, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett paid a visit to the UAE.
Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan greeted the president upon his arrival in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi.
“I will be meeting the leadership of the United Arab Emirates, at the personal invitation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince,” Herzog said earlier.
“I wish him well and I am grateful for his courage and bold leadership, carving out a peace agreement with Israel and sending a message to the entire region that peace is the only alternative for the peoples of the region.”
President Herzog will also be meeting Jewish communities in the UAE, which is the region’s commercial and tourism hub.
Israel on Jan. 18 offered security and intelligence support to the UAE against further drone attacks after a deadly strike by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, according to a letter released on Tuesday by Israel’s leader.