Dubai (Reuters) – United Arab Emirates’ president Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan confirmed the Gulf state’s commitment to relations with Israel in a call with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that discussed strengthening ties, UAE state media said on Tuesday.
A separate statement from Netanyahu’s office said the two leaders agreed to “continue the dialogue between them in a personal meeting in the near future.” UAE state news agency WAM made no mention of an in-person meeting.
The phone call follows a series of moves and comments by Netanyahu’s right-wing governing coalition that have raised Arab ire and drawn condemnation from the UAE, including over Israeli settlement policy in the occupied West Bank.
There has been a surge in Israeli-Palestinian violence in recent months and concern that tensions could increase during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which this year coincides with Judaism’s Passover and Christian Easter.
Israel has also conducted several air strikes in Syria.
The UAE president said his country would work with Israel, Arab nations and international partners “to avoid regional escalation”, WAM reported.
Sheikh Mohammed described the UAE’s ties with Israel, forged in 2020 under a U.S.-brokered pact known as the Abraham Accords, as a strategic choice for peace and development, saying the UAE sought increased collaboration across multiple sectors.
Economic opportunities are a major driver of the Abraham Accords alongside shared concerns over the perceived threat from Iran. Israel has for years been carrying out attacks against what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria.
Abu Dhabi has been engaging with Tehran to contain tensions and has been pushing fellow Arab states to re-establish ties with Damascus.