As efforts to salvage an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program remain deadlocked amid a widening impasse with Tehran, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett paid an unexpected visit to the United Arab Emirates.
Bennett’s trip to Abu Dhabi on Thursday was his second in public since Israel and the UAE publicly normalized relations in 2020 after years of quiet cooperation.
According to a statement from Bennett’s office, Netanyahu will visit UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the two will discuss “many regional challenges,” with Iran likely to be at the top of the list.
Bennett praised countries at an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Wednesday who voted to punish Iran for its nuclear transparency in a video message released before leaving.
“We see here a definite stand by global governments on the line between good and evil, as they assert unequivocally that Iran is concealing things.” Before boarding a jet to the United Arab Emirates, he stated, “We will not give up on this subject.”
In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the agreement and increased sanctions against Iran, escalating regional tensions and causing a series of attacks and events.
A shared concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions in the area underpins UAE-Israel relations. Israel claims it is hell-bent on preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, while Tehran claims its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.
Israel was a vocal opponent of the 2015 agreement. It says it wants a better deal that tightens sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program and addresses Iran’s long-range missile development and support for hostile proxies near Israel’s borders.