Israeli President Isaac Herzog, making his first visit to the United Arab Emirates, has said his country supports the Gulf state’s security needs and wants more countries in the region to join its detente with Arab countries.
Sunday’s high-profile diplomatic trip comes more than a month after Naftali Bennett became the first Israeli prime minister to visit the UAE, which normalised ties with Israel in September 2020.
Three other Arab countries – Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco – also forged diplomatic ties with Israel under the so-called Abraham Accords brokered by the United States.
Herzog discussed security and bilateral relations with the UAE’s de facto ruler Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The UAE has in the past fortnight been attacked twice with drones and missiles, claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Israel has responded by offering security and intelligence support to the UAE against further drone attacks.
“We completely support your security requirements … We are here together to find ways and means to bring full security to people who seek peace in our region,” Herzog said during the meeting, in comments released by his office.
Sheikh Mohammed said Israel and the UAE share a “common view of the threats to regional stability and peace, particularly those posed by militias and terrorist forces”.
The presidency in Israel is a largely ceremonial post. During Prime Minister Bennett’s visit last month, international talks on Iran’s nuclear programme were on the agenda.
The Palestinian group Hamas, which opposes countries normalising ties with Israel, said such visits “encourage the occupation to continue escalating its aggression against our Palestinian people and denial of their rights”.
En route to the UAE President Herzog’s plane flew over Saudi Arabia, which Herzog said was “a very moving moment”. Riyadh has not yet followed its Gulf neighbours in normalising ties with Israel, but Israeli officials express hope this will happen.
“The Abraham Accords should be continued and more nations should join us,” Herzog said.
The UAE, along with Bahrain, signed the US-brokered normalisation agreements with Israel at the White House in September 2020, pacts that have angered the Palestinians.