Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan has hosted Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the first ever public meeting between the United Arab Emirates’ de facto ruler and an Israeli leader.
Israel’s ambassador to Abu Dhabi said the issue of Iran was on the agenda for their talks, which follow the formalisation of Israel-UAE relations last year under a US-led regional initiative.
While shared concern about Iranian activity was among reasons for the diplomatic moves, the UAE has also been trying to improve relations with Tehran.
Releasing photographs of Bennett and Sheikh Mohammed smiling and shaking hands on Monday, the Israeli leader’s office described the meeting as “historic”.
A statement on state news agency WAM said Sheikh Mohammed voiced hope for “stability in the Middle East” and that Bennet’s visit would “advance the relationship of cooperation towards more positive steps in the interests of the people of the two nations and of the region”.
The Palestinians, whose diplomacy with Israel has been stalled since 2014, have deplored the Israeli-Emirati rapprochement.
Israeli Ambassador Amir Hayek declined to elaborate on any discussion of Iran but he told Israel’s Army Radio: “The prime minister did not only come here solely to address the Iranian issue.”