Bennett from Israel makes his first official visit to the United Arab Emirates
Israel has watched with concern as Iran has pushed a hard line against negotiators meeting in Vienna, while calling for sanctions to be eased while accelerating its nuclear program.
In recent weeks, Israel has sent its top diplomat and its chiefs of defense and spies to meet with allies in Europe, the United States and the Middle East to push for a firmer focus on Iran. . The spread of Israel has been accompanied by repeated threats to take military action against Iran if diplomacy fails.
Bennett’s trip to Abu Dhabi, where he will meet with Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, is a milestone for both Israel and its new leader. Israel and the United Arab Emirates last year signed a normalization agreement negotiated by the Trump administration under the “Abraham Accords,” a series of diplomatic agreements with Arab countries that also included Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. Israel and the United Arab Emirates have long shared common anxiety over Iran’s nuclear program. The agreement to establish ties between the countries only increased tensions with the Islamic Republic.
Bennett was greeted by a guard of honor and received by the UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“I am very excited to be here, on the first official visit of an Israeli leader,” Bennett said. “We look forward to strengthening diplomatic relations between the countries.”
Bennett’s trip comes after a visit by UAE national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Tehran, where he met with Iran’s new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, to try to relieve tension. It was an important visit for the Arab Gulf Federation, which has long seen Iran as its main regional threat. Several regional political visits have also been made recently by the Syrian Foreign Minister and the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Turkey, all with their eyes set on the negotiations.
Israel, which is not part of the Vienna talks, has turned to its allies to work together and put pressure on negotiators seeking to halt Iran’s nuclear program.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid recently visited Europe and Egypt, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Mossad chief David Barnea flew to the United States to discuss talks with leaders there. Earlier this year, Lapid visited the United Arab Emirates and inaugurated the Israeli embassy there.
Israel sees the United Arab Emirates as a crucial part of this communication with its allies. Under Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the powerful Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and for a long time the de facto ruler of the Emirates, the United Arab Emirates has embarked on a rapid expansion of its military forces to counter what sees it as the threat posed by Iran. During the recent Dubai Air Show, Sheikh Mohammed visited the pavilion of Israel Aerospace Industries, Israel’s largest state defense contractor.
The Emirates is also home to US and French forces and its port of Jebel Ali is the busiest port of call in the US Navy outside of America.
Vienna talks are working to reactivate the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. The deal, launched by President Barack Obama, has eased Iran’s stifling sanctions in exchange for halting its nuclear program.
But three years later, President Donald Trump, with strong encouragement from then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, withdrew from the deal, causing it to fall apart. Since then, the United States has re-imposed sanctions and Iran has intensified its nuclear activities, accumulating a highly enriched uranium reserve that goes far beyond the limits of the agreement.
Leading voices in Israel, including a former defense minister and former intelligence chief, now indicate that the withdrawal of the United States, especially without a contingency plan for Iran’s ongoing nuclear plan, was bad. handled.
Talks resumed earlier this month in Vienna after a five-month hiatus following Raisi’s election. But negotiators ended the round disappointed, alleging that Iran had backtracked on progress made in previous rounds and had deepened with new demands for sanctions relief.
Iran is also not slowing down progress on its nuclear program, further increasing the stakes in talks. In the middle of the negotiations, the UN nuclear control body confirmed that Iran had begun enriching uranium up to 20% purity in its underground facilities in Fordo, a place where the agreement did not allows enrichment.
Israel considers Iran its main enemy and has strongly opposed the 2015 agreement. It says it wants an improved agreement that puts stricter restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and addresses the long-range missile program. Iran’s scope and its support for representatives hostile to Israel’s borders. Israel also says negotiations must be accompanied by a “credible” military threat to ensure that Iran is not delayed indefinitely.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
If successful, Bennett’s visit to the United Arab Emirates could give him a boost at home at a time when he is being criticized for his family’s recent trip abroad amid COVID’s travel restrictions and when the legitimacy of their leadership is still being questioned by opposition lawmakers and voters who support them.
Bennett, who leads a small nationalist party in parliament, took office as prime minister after an agreement was reached by a panoply of political factions working to overthrow Netanyahu, a longtime leader who presented himself as the top statesman. and defender of Israel.