New Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu 'could go on official UAE trip next week': reports

New Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu 'could go on official UAE trip next week': reports
New Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's potentially imminent visit to the UAE would be his first official trip abroad since his return to office.
2 min read
02 January, 2023
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently returned to power with a far-right coalition government [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP/Getty-archive]

Benjamin Netanyahu intends to soon make an official trip to the UAE, according to reports Monday, in what would be the returning Israeli prime minister's first visit to the Gulf state.

The date and programme for the visit have yet to be set, sources told news website The Times of Israel.

The visit could happen as soon as next week, the report said.

The trip would be the Likud party leader's first official trip abroad since he became head of Israel's new far-right government on Thursday, just 18 months after being pushed out of the job.

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Emirati president Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan spoke with Netanyahu by telephone to "congratulate him for assuming leadership of the new Israeli government", UAE state news agency WAM said on Saturday.

According to the Israeli premier's office, bin Zayed also reiterated an invitation to Netanyahu to visit the UAE, adding "the two agreed that the visit would take place soon".

Discussion of the visit comes despite the UAE cautioning Netanyahu ahead of the November election not to put extremist politicians in the government.

However, far-right leaders Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir are both now ministers.

In December, before Israel's new government was sworn in, UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al-Khaja was seen clasping hands with Ben-Gvir at a reception hosted by the Emirati embassy.

At the event, the star of the show, Netanyahu, gave a speech to Israeli and Emirati officials which ended with the Arabic word "inshallah".

Though Tel Aviv-Abu Dhabi ties appear warm, the UAE – as well as three other Arab countries that controversially agreed to normalise ties with Israel in 2020 – voted at the UN General Assembly last week to ask the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

The resolution, which passed with a strong majority, was also backed by Jordan and Egypt, who have had official relations with Israel for many years.

Four Arab countries – the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan – agreed to normalise ties with Israel through US-brokered accords.

The move has been widely condemned by Palestinians, who consider it a betrayal of their national cause.