The focus of Tuesday’s summit meeting between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Egyptian President Abdel Fateh al-Sissi and the Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed was the nuclear talks being held in Vienna.
The three leaders considered two different scenarios. One was a renewed signing of the nuclear accord, the other a collapse of talks which was hinted at by sources in the American administration over the last few days.
The spokesperson of the U.S. State Department, Ned Price, welcomed the meeting between the three leaders, noting that it was another example of what was possible with normalized relations. He said that the U.S. would continue to support the Abraham Accords, as well as other accords normalizing Israel’s relations with the Arab and Muslim world.
Haaretz has learned that the U.S. administration has recently updated Israel, indicating that the removal of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards from the list of terrorist organizations would not lead to the lifting of sanctions on the group.
According to the administration, if this step is taken, it will be done in order to reverse the precedent set by President Donald Trump when he added the Revolutionary Guards to the list – the first time an official state institution was declared a terrorist organization. This was an issue of concern for the summit participants and was discussed openly and sincerely.
The three leaders also discussed the possibility of setting up a joint regional air defense system to combat done use and belligerent operations by Iran and terror groups operating in the region. The three groups will take part in efforts to establish a broader regional alliance to address this threat, which will include Jordan and Turkey.
The three also discussed Syrian President Bashar Assad’s efforts to resume his ties with Arab states in the region despite the objections of the United States.
- Israel's Bennett, UAE Crown Prince and Egypt's Sissi Hold Summit to Boost Ties
- Assad Visits UAE in First Trip to Arab Country Since Start of Syrian Civil War
- Israel Condemns U.S. Intention to Drop Iran's Revolutionary Guards Off Terror List
Syrian President Bashar Assad's efforts to resume ties with Arab states in the region despite U.S. objections were also discussed. The topic was of particular relevance following Assad's visit to Dubai last week, where he met with bin Zayed. Despite the U.S. rejection of such efforts, Israel has yet to offer a concrete opinion or position, as the Syrian president's efforts may be helpful in reducing Iranian presence in Syria.
Bennett updated Sissi and bin Zayed on his efforts to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, and the implications of the war for the Middle East were discussed. The war has caused an international increase in wheat prices, causing a crisis in Egypt. Additionally, there is increased pressure on the UAE and Saudi Arabia to increase oil production in order to reduce global dependence on both Russian and Iranian oil. Israel is in favor of the two nations increasing their oil output, though it has yet to occur.
Concerns about tension during Ramadan
Since there is no diplomatic progress on the Palestinian front, Bennett updated his colleagues on the steps being taken in Israel to improve the welfare of residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The participants raised concerns regarding the rising tensions in the area ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.
Furthermore, the three leaders discussed the relative economic advantages of each of their respective nations and possible opportunities for joint economic ventures. Egypt and Israel are exploring the possibility of letting Egyptian airlines fly the new direct route from Sharm al-Sheikh to Ben-Gurion International Airport to improve competition and reduce high-ticket prices. Just last week, the two nations agreed to open the route to Israeli airlines.
Bennett and Sissi are making efforts to significantly upgrade economic ties between Israel and Egypt. A delegation of Egyptian businessmen visited Israel last week, and a similar Israeli delegation – headed by Economy Minister Orna Barbivai – is expected to visit Egypt in the near future.
Bennett and bin Zayed also discussed their desire to formulate a free trade zone between Israel and the UAE. The two leaders are working to accelerate the process, hoping to complete it within the coming weeks.
Bin Zayed sent an Emiriati delegation to the marathon talks being held in Israel.