News Analysis: Israeli PM's historic summit with Egypt, UAE leaders signals gripe about U.S.

  • World
  • Thursday, 24 Mar 2022

by Xinhua writer Wang Zhuolun

JERUSALEM, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday wrapped up his first-ever trilateral summit with the Egyptian and United Arab Emirates' leaders amid increasingly complicated regional and international situations, implying Israel's frustration towards the United States when the Iranian nuclear deal is approaching a solution.

Bennett's visit to Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh was unannounced beforehand while its significance turned out to be pronounced. It was the second trip of the Israeli prime minister to Egypt in six months and his second meeting with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in four months.

His last meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in September 2021 marked the first such summit between Israeli and Egyptian leaders in more than a decade. He also held talks with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi last December, during the first trip by an Israeli prime minister to the gulf country.

Now, this unprecedented meeting took place as Iran and world powers were reportedly close to agreeing on the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal in Vienna, with the United States indirectly involved, which Israel is fiercely opposed to.

Slamming the U.S. decision to remove Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) from the terrorist organization blacklist, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the United States and Israel "have a complex dialogue ... We don't hide the fact that we have differences of opinion with the (Biden) administration."

"We believe that the United States will not abandon its closest allies in exchange for empty promises from terrorists," Bennett and Lapid said in a joint statement on Friday, viewed by local media as "their most strongly-worded statement on the Iran talks so far."

"The timing of the summit is intended to present a united front against the West's steps to secure a nuclear deal with Iran," said Jonathan Lis, deputy director of the think tank British Influence.

The summit was part of an effort "to forge a coalition with American backing among countries that in the past were considered adversaries of Israel, including Egypt, the Gulf states and Turkey," Lis added.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been repeatedly targeted by the Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi militia in recent months, and "were disappointed with the U.S. response, which they view as too restrained," said Lahav Harkov, senior contributing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

"They are also concerned that the Iran nuclear deal the United States is involved in negotiating does not address their security needs," she added.

The UAE established diplomatic ties with Israel in 2020, while Egypt was the first Arab country to forge diplomatic relations with Israel in 1979, after decades of conflicts.

While Israel strongly opposes a joint U.S.-Iran return to the 2015 deal, Egypt and the UAE are both seen as more amenable to the deal's revival, said Israeli diplomatic commentator Lazar Berman.

"Both are concerned about Iran's support of proxies throughout the region, but they have maintained that Iran is able to race toward a bomb if there is no deal," he explained.

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