Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrived in the United Arab Emirates on the first such visit, his office said, seeking to strengthen Gulf ties at a time of heightened regional tension as world powers try to revive a nuclear deal with Iran.
The UAE, along with Bahrain, signed U.S.-brokered normalisation agreements with Israel, dubbed the “Abraham Accords”, in 2020. The two Gulf states and Israel share common concerns about Iran and its allied forces in the region.
En route to the UAE President Herzog’s plane flew over Saudi Arabia, which he said was “truly a very moving moment”. Riyadh and Israel do not have diplomatic ties, but Israel has said it would like to establish a relationship with the kingdom which is home to Islam’s two holiest sites.
The presidency in Israel is a largely ceremonial post. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited the UAE in December.
The president was greeted on arrival in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi by Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“I will be meeting the leadership of the United Arab Emirates, at the personal invitation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince,” Herzog said earlier.
“I wish him well and I am grateful for his courage and bold leadership, carving out a peace agreement with Israel and sending a message to the entire region that peace is the only alternative for the peoples of the region.”
President Herzog will also be meeting Jewish communities in the UAE, which is the region’s commercial and tourism hub.
Israel on Jan. 18 offered security and intelligence support to the UAE against further drone attacks after a deadly strike by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, according to a letter released on Tuesday by Israel’s leader.