JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is ready to turn out to be the primary Israeli chief to make an official go to to the United Arab Emirates, after Israeli officers stated he would fly to Abu Dhabi on Sunday to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the de facto Emirati chief.
The go to is the newest signal of deepening ties between Israel and components of the Arab world, a course of that accelerated within the fall of 2020 when Israel signed diplomatic agreements with 4 international locations, including the United Arab Emirates, that had beforehand averted formal relations with Israel due to its battle with the Palestinians.
The assembly additionally highlighted how these 2020 agreements — which have been brokered by President Donald J. Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Bennett’s predecessor as prime minister — have endured past the demise of the Trump and Netanyahu administrations.
By visiting Abu Dhabi, Mr. Bennett will obtain a foreign-policy laurel that was denied to Mr. Netanyahu, who was forced to cancel three journeys final winter, partly due to coronavirus restrictions and partly as a result of Emirati leaders balked on the prospect of turning into props in his re-election marketing campaign.
Israeli cupboard ministers have since visited the Emirates, however by no means a primary minister.
Prince Mohammed’s invitation to Mr. Bennett underscored the shifting priorities of Gulf countries just like the United Arab Emirates, for whom the specter of a nuclear Iran is now of far higher concern than a decision to the Israeli-Palestinian battle.
For a long time, solely Egypt and Jordan had formal relations with Israel, with most Arab leaders preferring to delay a détente till the institution of a Palestinian state.
Having lengthy maintained clandestine ties, the Emirates lastly cast a proper relationship with Israel in September 2020 after Israel promised to postpone its plan to annex components of the occupied West Bank. Deals with Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan quickly adopted.
Since then, Emirati officers had stated little concerning the Palestinians, with mutual fears over Iran’s nuclear program forming the bedrock of the Israel-Emirati relationship as an alternative.
The worth of commerce between the Emirates and Israel has additionally quickly elevated: In the primary seven months of 2021, bilateral commerce was value greater than $600 million, in accordance to statistics cited in September by an Israeli official — about $550 million greater than throughout the equal interval in 2020. Banks, universities, airways and expertise companies within the two international locations have signed partnership offers, and their armies have performed joint workouts. The Emirates additionally arrange an funding fund, value $10 billion, for initiatives in Israel.
Ties with Bahrain and Morocco have additionally continued to enhance, however questions have been raised concerning the sustainability of the cope with Sudan. Little momentum has been created since Israel and Sudan formally signed a normalization deal in January, the 2 international locations haven’t exchanged ambassadors, and a recent coup in Khartoum solid doubt over your entire association.
No new rapprochement has been introduced for the reason that Sudanese deal in January, regardless of hopes that Saudi Arabia, which has shut ties with the Emirates and which shares an antipathy for Iran, would turn out to be the fifth nation to enroll to the Abraham Accords, because the offers are recognized. Mr. Netanyahu was reported to have met in secret in November 2020 with Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, however Saudi officers denied the assembly passed off.
And even within the Emirates, there are indicators of warning about attracting an excessive amount of consideration to its relationship with Israel. Mr. Bennett’s workplace invited dozens of Israel-based journalists to accompany him on his flight to Abu Dhabi, however Emirati officers declined to manage a information convention for them or to host them on the prince’s palace. The journalists have been later uninvited from the mission completely, formally due to rising considerations over the brand new coronavirus variant.
Myra Noveck contributed reporting.