Israeli Leader Travels to U.A.E., Showcasing Deepening Ties

The value of trade between the Emirates and Israel has also rapidly increased: In the first seven months of 2021, bilateral trade was worth more than $600 million, according to statistics cited in September by an Israeli official — about $550 million more than during the equivalent period in 2020. Banks, universities, airlines and technology firms in the two countries have signed partnership deals, and their armies have conducted joint exercises. The Emirates also set up an investment fund, worth $10 billion, for projects in Israel.

Ties with Bahrain and Morocco have also continued to improve, but questions have been raised about the sustainability of the deal with Sudan. Little momentum has been created since Israel and Sudan formally signed a normalization deal in January, following an initial announcement in October 2020. The two countries have not exchanged ambassadors, and a recent coup in Khartoum cast doubt over the entire arrangement.

No new rapprochement has been announced since the Sudanese deal in January, despite hopes that Saudi Arabia, which has close ties with the Emirates and which shares an antipathy for Iran, would become the fifth country to join the process.

Saudi Arabia and the Emirates share many foreign policy goals but do not always act in unison; in 2019, Abu Dhabi began to pull its troops from Yemen, where they had been fighting alongside Saudi-led forces in a war against an Iran-backed militia. Earlier this year the two countries clashed over whether to increase oil production. The Emirates has also been quicker to modernize than Saudi Arabia; in one example last week, Emirati officials announced the country would change the timing of its weekends to align with the Western calendar.

Saudi officials have said that the country will not replicate the Emirati-Israeli normalization deal until the sealing of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Mr. Netanyahu was reported to have met in secret in November 2020 with Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, but Saudi officials denied the meeting took place.

But even in the Emirates, there are signs of caution about attracting too much attention to its relationship with Israel. Mr. Bennett’s office invited dozens of Israel-based journalists to accompany him on his flight to Abu Dhabi, but Emirati officials declined to organize a news conference for them or to host them at the prince’s palace. The journalists were later uninvited from the mission entirely, officially because of rising concerns over the new coronavirus variant.

Myra Noveck contributed reporting.

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