Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday met in Abu Dhabi with the emirate’s crown prince, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. It was the first meeting between the two leaders.

Upon landing in Abu Dhabi, Bennett was greeted by an honor guard and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed.

“I appreciate your warm welcome,” Bennett said, adding that he was “very excited” to be there on his first visit as the leader of Israel.

In an interview with the official Emirati news outlet WAM published on Monday, Bennett said, “The message that I wish to deliver to the UAE leaders and Emirati citizens is that mutual partnership and friendship are natural … The period since the signing of the Abraham Accords is the best evidence that developing bilateral relations is a precious treasure for us and the entire region.”

“The values of tolerance, peace and dialogue are common, and that is why the friendship that unites us developed at such a high speed,” Bennett said.

Bennett told WAM that the accords provided a “new, deep and solid structure for diplomatic, economic and cultural relations” in the region.

“In my opinion, this is the peace and the new reality this region is witnessing, and we are working together to ensure a better future for our children,” He said.

The Israeli prime minister added that Israeli-Emirati relations have strengthened in all sectors, with many agreements signed for cooperation in trade, research and development, cybersecurity, health, education, aviation and more.

“I look forward to the continued development and consolidation of relations,” he said.

In his meeting with the crown prince, Bennett was expected to present information about the deployment of pro-Iranian militias and drone units recently discovered by Israeli intelligence.

High-ranking Israeli officials say that the information will be presented in an attempt to keep the UAE from moving closer to Iran.

Bennett and bin Zayed were also expected to discuss additional cooperation in the fields of trade, tourism and with regard to a number of diplomatic and security issues. Some Israeli officials are worried that the Emiratis will step up pressure for Israel to sell them its Iron Dome and David’s Sling defense systems, a deal that could be worth billions.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.


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