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Israeli president visits UAE, praises bilateral space cooperation

Herzog meets UAE president, assures him that “the Abraham Accords are a national consensus in Israel”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaking with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the Abu Dhabi Space Debate, Dec. 5, 2022 (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Following a historic visit to Bahrain, Israeli President Isaac Herzog arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, where he was greeted by the Emirati foreign minister.

Delivering a keynote speech at the Abu Dhabi Space Debate in the UAE, Herzog lauded Israel’s growing space cooperation with the UAE, as well as with NASA, the European Space Agency and European counterparts in France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Brazil, and many other countries. 

While mentioning all these, he stated, “I am especially proud of our evolving space partnership with the United Arab Emirates. Our two countries are boldly leading our region toward new frontiers in space and leaving our mark on history.”

Herzog noted that Emirati-Israeli space cooperation is important for addressing the climate crisis in the Middle East. 

“We must work together to harness the power of advanced space technologies to address the urgent climate crisis in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Our cooperation can turn our beautiful region into a global hub of climate solutions,” Herzog said.

Herzog noted that Israel is impressed with the Emirati capabilities and stressed that Israeli and Emirati expertise complement each other. 

“It is a perfect match with Israel, a world leader in technologies for miniature satellites, high resolution and remote-sensing capabilities, and cybersecurity in space,” he said.

Under the patronage of the UAE president, the Abu Dhabi Space Debate focuses on space challenges and multinational dialogue at the highest levels of government worldwide. 

In October 2021, Israel and the UAE signed a historic cooperation agreement concerning space missions and moon landing. At the time, Shimon Sarid, CEO of the privately run Israeli space organization, SpaceIL, praised the bilateral agreement as a marriage of complementing capabilities. 

“If we combine the capabilities of the Israeli side and the Emirati side, we can do a very interesting and successful mission,” Sarid said.  

On Monday, Herzog met with UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ) and reassured him that “the Abraham Accords are a national consensus in Israel on all sides of the political spectrum.” 

The UAE was the first of four Arab states that signed the historic normalization agreement with the Jewish state in 2020. Herzog’s comment was likely meant to ease any concerns that far-right parties in the incoming Netanyahu government might harm Israel’s relations with the Arab world. 

Addressing the future, Herzog urged both Israelis and Arabs to strengthen and expand the historic Arab-Israeli peace accords that were forged under former U.S. President Donald Trump. 

“Now we have to reach cruising altitude. That is, to upgrade ties between us even more, to strengthen them and to bring more nations into the Abraham Accords,” Herzog said. 

The Emirati president told his Israeli guest that both Israel and the UAE should be proud of their burgeoning bilateral relations. 

“We built a very strong bridge between the countries that we both can be proud of,” MBZ said. 

The UAE recently celebrated 51 years of independence. Since gaining independence from Great Britain in 1971, the UAE has transformed from a once sleepy backwater to the Arab world’s most thriving economy, with an annual GDP of approximately $500 billion. 

Emirati-Israeli space cooperation, however, precedes the signing of the Abraham Accords. In the year prior, the first Emirati astronaut in space, Hazza Al Mansouri, revealed that he had brought an Israeli flag on a mission to space. 

“I am happy to be here and present this Israeli flag to the people here and the Israeli public. I took this flag with me two years ago on my first mission as an Emirati astronaut and this is my gift to all Israelis,” said Al Mansouri, who is an F16 pilot in the UAE Air Force. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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