After censure of Iran, Bennett meets UAE president, discusses concerns

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed will discuss regional concerns as tensions rise with Iran.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meeting with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, June 9, 2022.  (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meeting with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, June 9, 2022.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on Thursday in a previously unannounced visit to Abu Dhabi.

The meeting came less than a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors voted to rebuke Iran for not cooperating with the monitoring of its nuclear program, a possible signal that Bennett and MBZ, as the Emirati leader is known, plan to coordinate their strategies on that front.

Boarding the plane to Abu Dhabi, Bennett commended the IAEA for its decision, “which clearly states that Iran is continuing to play games and is continuing to conceal and hide,” he said. “On the one hand, we see in this decision the lies and the hypocrisy of Iran on the nuclear issue and in general. On the other hand, we see here a firm stance by the countries of the world regarding the distinction between good and evil, as they clearly state that Iran is concealing things. We will not let up on this issue.”

However, Iran was not mentioned in the Prime Minister’s Office post-meeting statement, other than in a discussion of “advancing the regional architecture.” That phrase has been used to describe coordination between Israel and the Arab states with which it has peace, including on Iran-related security issues.

The trip is Bennett’s second to the UAE as prime minister, and his third meeting with MBZ; they met once in Sharm e-Sheikh along with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah a-Sisi, as well.

  Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meeting with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, June 9, 2022.  (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO) Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meeting with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, June 9, 2022. (credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

Israel and the UAE have had diplomatic relations since August 2020, when the Abraham Accords were announced.

The one-on-one meeting between Bennett and MBZ was about two hours long, followed by a working lunch with members of their delegations.

They discussed expanding trade between their countries following a free trade agreement signed last week.

Bennett also offered his condolences at the death of previous UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, and praised MBZ as “a man of vision and a brave leader. Today, together, we will take the special bond that has been woven between our countries to the next level — for the growth and security of both our peoples.”

Bennett was welcomed to the UAE by an honor guard and Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed.