A year after normalising relations with the United Arab Emirates, Naftali Bennett has become the first Israeli prime minister to visit the country.
"The Israeli prime minister's successful visit to the United Arab Emirates is another milestone in the development of warm relations and a tremendous partnership forged between the two countries," Israel's prime minister's office and the office of crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said in a joint statement issued following talks in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Sheikh Mohammed expressed hope for “stability in the Middle East” and that Mr Bennett’s visit would “advance the relationship of co-operation towards more positive steps in the interests of the people of the two nations and of the region”.
"The message that I wish to deliver to the UAE leaders and Emirati citizens is that mutual partnership and friendship are natural," Mr Bennett said, inviting Sheikh Mohammed to visit Israel.
The statements stressed the burgeoning bilateral ties and efforts to establish a free trade agreement and made no mention of either Iran or the Palestinian question.
The two leaders also commended the high rate of Covid vaccination in both countries, noting that the UAE and Israel were ranked among the top countries worldwide in this regard.
The UAE became the third Arab state to fully recognise Israel last year as part of the Abraham Accords brokered by the administration of then US president Donald Trump.
The countries have since swapped ambassadors and agreed trade deals worth hundreds of millions of euro, including agreements on defence and cyber intelligence.
Despite also establishing ties with Bahrain and Morocco under the Abraham Accords and initiating contacts with Sudan, Israel has failed to end the hostility of much of the Arab and Muslim world.
Many states in the region, notably Saudi Arabia, continue to insist that without a breakthrough in the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians there can be no normalisation with the Jewish state, although some other Arab states do maintain informal commercial and intelligence ties.
According to Israeli media reports, Mr Bennett also presented to the crown prince information about the deployment in the region of pro-Iranian militias and drone units recently discovered by Israeli intelligence.
High-ranking Israeli officials said that the information was presented in an attempt to keep the UAE from moving closer to Iran.
Although Abu Dhabi shares Israel’s concerns about the potential threat from a nuclear-armed Iran, it is also maintains warm bilateral ties and commercial relations with Tehran.
Such ties reportedly prompted Israel to refuse a request from the UAE to purchase Israel’s state-of-the -art Iron Dome anti-missile system, which has been so effective in intercepting incoming projectiles fired by militants from Gaza.