Israel’s new foreign minister, Yair Lapid, began a two-day visit to the Gulf Arab country on Tuesday. He said Israel will “stay here”.
The Israeli Foreign Minister arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, kicking off the highest-level visit by Israeli officials to the Gulf Arab countries since the two countries officially established relations nine months ago.
At the inauguration of the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told diplomats that this was a “historic moment”.
“The Middle East is our home and we will stay here. Therefore, we call on all countries in the region to recognize this and talk to us,” he said.
Making history: proudly represent the State of Israel to make the first official visit to the United Arab Emirates. Thank you for your warm welcome. ????
Making history: proudly represent the State of Israel to make the first official visit to the United Arab Emirates.Thank you for your warm welcome pic.twitter.com/sxVXPYcghQ
-Yair Lapid? (@yairlapid) June 29, 2021
Translation: “Making history: proudly representing the State of Israel to make the first official visit to the UAE” Thank you for your warm welcome.
Rapid will meet with the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs in Abu Dhabi. The talks may be partly focused on Iran. Both countries consider Iran to be a regional threat.
The administration of former US President Donald Trump facilitated the so-called “Abraham Agreement” agreement, which established the relationship between the UAE and Israel. At the time, both Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised this as one of their greatest achievements.
When Rapid was in Abu Dhabi, US Secretary of State Anthony Brinken welcomed the opening of the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi.
According to the Times of Israel, Brinken said in a statement that the opening of the embassy and Rapide’s visit to this Gulf country “has great significance for Israel, the UAE and the wider region”.
“The United States will continue to work with Israel and the UAE because we have strengthened all aspects of our partnership and worked hard to create a more peaceful, secure and prosperous future for all people in the Middle East,” Brinken said.
Rapide’s two-day visit to the UAE is what Netanyahu hopes to achieve before ending his 12-year ruling career earlier this month. He has tried several times to travel quickly to Abu Dhabi to take advantage of the normalization agreement signed by his government and promote his re-election campaign.
In acknowledging Netanyahu, Lapid said that the former prime minister was “the creator of the Abraham Agreement” and he “worked tirelessly to realize these agreements.”
Since then, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco have also begun to establish ties with Israel. The Palestinians expressed regret for regional reconciliation, and they hope to first resolve their demands on countries not occupied by Israel.
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian National Authority, considered the Abraham Agreement to be “an illusion” and claimed that the colonial power “implanted[ed] WAFA, the official Palestinian news service, stated that Israel acts as an outside entity in the region to divide it and maintain its weakness.
The common concern that underpins the relationship between the UAE and Israel is that Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers is not enough to contain Tehran’s influence in the region. Long before the two countries formally announced the establishment of a comprehensive diplomatic relationship last year, the two countries’ reservations to the deal helped promote a peaceful relationship.
Rapid will also visit the site of Expo 2020 Dubai, the World Expo that opened in October, where Israel built a pavilion.
Rapid’s plane passed through Saudi airspace on its way to the UAE. Although Riyadh has not normalized relations with Israel, it opened its skies to Israel-UAE flights last year.
This month, the UAE officially opened its embassy in Israel, temporarily located at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
The Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi still has only three diplomats and one mission chief, Eitan Na’eh, who has not yet been confirmed as an official ambassador. The consulate in Dubai is also located in a temporary location.