Israeli opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid met with the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Italy on Tuesday. Lapid's meeting with scheduled at the request of the Emiratis and took place at a hotel for about three hours, according to Israeli news reports.
The two reportedly discussed strategic cooperation between the two countries, relations with the Arab Gulf nations and the promotion of joint programs, Lapid posted on Twitter with a shared photo.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has still not met with any UAE officials since resuming office in December 2022. The prime minister had reportedly ordered that no other government representative coordinate a visit to the Abraham Accord partner nation before he goes there himself.
Ynet news reported that Netanyahu has already been invited by the UAE for an official state visit and even announced it will be the first country the prime minister will travel to in his current term.
His visit to the UAE was supposed to take place more than six months ago but was eventually postponed in January after National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir ascended the Temple Mount.
Both the UAE and Bahrain are allegedly dismayed by Netanyahu’s government coalition, comprised of far-right ministers like Ben Gvir.
In early August, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen was scheduled to embark on a trip to Bahrain, but it was postponed by the hosts. Israel's Kan news reported the official reason as a change to the Bahraini King's schedule. However, the report noted that the cancellation also came after Ben Gvir had visited the Temple Mount once again with other members of the Israeli coalition. This drew backlash from several Muslim countries.
In addition, the “Negev Forum” that was supposed to convene at the end of July in Morocco was postponed until the end of the summer following the recent escalation between Israel and Palestinian Authority. The forum is to include the foreign ministers of Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain the United Arab Emirates and the United States Secretary of State.
Knesset Member Meirav Ben Ari, a member of Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, praised Lapid for the meeting with Al Nahyan while mocking the current government for its diplomacy in a tweet that was later deleted.
She wrote: “A sitting Foreign Minister meets with the Foreign Minister of Moldova. A former Foreign Minister meets with the Emirati Foreign Minister. A ‘different league’ as we told you.”
Ben Ari was referring to Netanyahu’s supporters who claim that the prime minister carries out diplomacy in a “different league” than other Israeli lawmakers.
In response, Cohen, who is visiting Moldova this week, wrote: “There is a government that knows how to bring historic peace deals, and there’s a former Foreign minister who knows how to take pictures. We promise to bring more peace agreements, so that Lapid will have more people to take photos with.”
His tweet has also been deleted.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.