Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan welcoming Israeli President Isaac Herzog at Abu Dhabi international airport, United Arab Emirates on 30 January, 2022. (Photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/Government of Israel)
The President of Israel Isaac Herzog arrived in the United Arab Emirates on 30 January for the first ever visit by an Israeli president to the country.
Herzog’s visit was reportedly at the invitation of Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
Herzog was received at the airport by the foreign minister of the UAE, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed. He is later expected to hold a meeting with the crown prince and open Israel’s national day at Dubai Expo 2020 on 31 January.
Quoting Herzog’s office, Israeli media outlets said that as the plane carrying the president flew through the airspace of Saudi Arabia on its way to Abu Dhabi, the pilot announced: “We are now over Saudi Arabia … we are making history! We will soon fly over the capital.”
Herzog reportedly entered the cockpit to view Saudi territory below, and stated: “Without a doubt, it is a very moving moment.”
Before leaving Israel, Herzog told journalists that he was carrying “a message of peace to the entire region, to the peoples of the region.”
Herzog’s visit to the UAE comes at a time when the Israeli occupation continues to increase its aggression against the people of Palestine. The UAE is also engaged in a brutal military campaign against the people of Yemen.
On 25 November, The Cradle revealed that Israel has helped the UAE to set up a military base and an intelligence gathering facility on Yemen’s Abd al-Kuri island to be used for operations against the Yemeni armed forces.
Meanwhile, Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has condemned the decision by Emirati authorities to host Herzog.
In a statement issued by the Hamas press office, the movement reaffirmed its rejection of all types of normalization deals with the Israeli occupation.
Hamas said that the visit by Herzog will embolden the occupation to escalate its aggression against Palestinians.
The UAE has hosted several top Israeli officials since August 2020 when the two countries normalized relations under the so-called Abraham Accords brokered by the US government.
In December 2021, Israeli Prime Minister Benny Gantz visited the UAE, becoming the most senior Israeli official to visit the country.
The deepening ties between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv have been condemned by many in the region who have accused the UAE of abandoning Palestinians by siding with their oppressor.