Israel’s Netanyahu to Visit Abu Dhabi, Meet Crown Prince for the First Time
DOHA, Qatar – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, Israeli media announced on Wednesday.
The prime minister will be meeting the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in a trip coordinated with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Haaretz reported.
BREAKING: Israeli prime minister Netanyahu will travel tomorrow to the UAE for a 1st official visit less than 2 weeks before the elections. He will meet Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi, sources familiar with the matter tell me
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) March 10, 2021
A One-Day Trip
Netanyahu is expected to fly to the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi on a private plane Thursday morning, The Jerusalem Post reported. Upon landing at Abu Dhabi, he will conduct meetings at the airport before flying back to Israel before a scheduled meeting with the prime ministers of Hungary and the Czech Republic later in the day, according to the newspaper.
Some see the planned visit taking place two weeks before Israel’s national elections as Netanyahu flexing his diplomatic achievements, according to the Times of Israel.
Netanyahu might also meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman while in the Emirates, according to Israel’s public broadcaster Kan, Reuters reported.
However, neither Netanyahu nor Al Zayed’s office have confirmed these reports as of now.
A Delayed Trip
Netanyahu had earlier planned on visiting the United Arab Emirates but had delayed the visit three times, either because of COVID-19 lockdowns in Israel or political matters that required his presence in the country, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The most recent delay came early this February after Israel instituted fresh air-travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
Sources familiar told Haaretz that Netanyahu feared a visit to Bahrain and the UAE would be politically unwise and earn him criticism from Israelis, some of whom were then stranded outside the country due to border restrictions.
A Major Milestone in UAE-Israel Ties
Thursday’s planned visit would be the first time an Israeli prime minister has openly visited the UAE, Arutz Sheva reported, marking an important milestone in UAE-Israel ties.
Relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel have been warming ever since the two Middle Eastern countries signed the Abraham Accords back in September of 2020, at the White House.
Following the Accords’ signing, these countries, which once dealt with each other in secret, openly announced a plethora of agreements between Israeli and Emirati authorities, businesses, and institutions.