IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Eizenkot reportedly traveled to Abu Dhabi ‎for meetings with Crown Prince ‎Mohammed bin Zayed that focused on potential Israeli arms sale to UAE.

By: Neta Bar/Israel Hayom via JNS and United with Israel Staff

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot visited ‎the United Arab Emirates (UAE) twice over the past month, ‎Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper reported Friday.‎

According to the report‎, during both visits to Abu Dhabi, Eizenkot met with Crown Prince ‎Mohammed bin Zayed. ‎

The meetings focused on a potential Israeli arms ‎sale to the UAE, the report said, adding that ‎Eizenkot and the crown prince also discussed a visit ‎by UAE defense officials to Israel. ‎

The Lebanese daily further alleged that Prime ‎Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was looking to normalize ‎Israel’s relations with Bahrain.‎

Quoting American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) ‎President Mort Fridman, the report said that Saudi ‎Arabia, Bahrain’s regional patron, has given the tiny ‎Gulf emirate its blessing to set up an economic ‎mission in Israel and to host a corresponding ‎Israeli mission in Manama.‎

The report further said that Netanyahu was currently ‎exploring visiting Bahrain, as part of his efforts ‎to promote diplomatic normalization between the ‎Jewish state and the moderate Sunni states in the ‎Persian Gulf. ‎

Kuwait is also eyeing normalizing relations with ‎Israel, but prefers to be the last Gulf state to do ‎so, Al-Akhbar reported. ‎

In November 2015, Israel established a diplomatic mission in Abu Dhabi as part of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Driving the shift in relations between Israel and Arb Gulf states is the growing alignment of vital security interests between Israel and Sunni Arab states, above all the hegemonic ambitions of the Islamic Republic of Iran that are destabilizing the region.

Most of the Sunni Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, share a view that Iran presents the greatest threat to the region and that Israel, with its strong military, thriving economy and prosperous tech sector, has become an attractive regional partner.

‘A Great Change Has been Created’

Netanyahu on Sunday addressed a conference of Israeli ambassadors to Latin American, Asian and African countries at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and touched upon Israel’s evolving diplomatic status in the Middle East.

“A great change has been created here. The Arab world needs technology and innovation. It needs water, electricity, medical care and high-tech. There is a growing connection between Israeli companies and the Israeli world,” he stated.

He explained that “what is happening at the moment is that we are in a process of normalization with the Arab world without progress in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.”

While “the expectation was that progress or a breakthrough with the Palestinians would open links for us with the Arab world,” and it “seemed as if it was about to happen with the Oslo process but what happened was that the Arab refusal, together with the terrorism of the intifada, cost us almost 2,000 lives and wiped out this hope, which was shelved under Oslo governments.”

Therefore, Israel is moving forward in the Middle East “without the Palestinians being involved and it is much stronger because it does not depend on their caprices. The Arab states are looking for links with the strong. Cultivating strengths gives us diplomatic power.”

“It is more likely that it will work in reverse. Links with the Arab world will bring normalization and create the conditions for developing links with the Palestinians,” he concluded.