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Egypt-UAE-Israel summit 'protest note' to US: Israeli media

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi (C) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (R) and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (L) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on March 22, 2022 [Presidency of Egypt/Anadolu Agency]
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi (C) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (R) and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (L) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on March 22, 2022 [Presidency of Egypt/Anadolu Agency]

Visits by Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed, to Egypt for talks are a "message of protest" to the United States, according to Israeli media on Tuesday, Anadolu News Agency reports.

On Monday, Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, hosted both Bennett and bin Zayed in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh.

The three are expected to hold a tripartite summit on Tuesday, with discussions focusing on Iran nuclear talks, according to Israeli media.

The talks come after reports last week that Washington was considering removing Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) from the list of terrorist organisations in exchange for a public commitment from Tehran to "stop the escalation in the region."

The tripartite summit also reportedly seeks to examine the economic repercussions of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

Shared interests

So far, there has been no official statement by Egypt, Israel or the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the content of the talks.

"The meeting will address the security interests shared by the three countries," an Israeli diplomatic source was quoted as saying by the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC).

The source said both Israel and the UAE "oppose the US effort to remove the name of the IRGC from the list of terrorist organisations (in order) to please Iran."

"We are constantly building relations with the countries around us," Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Aidan Rule, told IPBC. "We are in intense dialogue with the Americans to influence the nuclear agreement."

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The Israeli broadcaster described the meeting by the three leaders as an "anti-Iranian summit", aimed at "buttressing the Israel-UAE front against Iran."

According to The Times of Israel, the trilateral summit "will mark the latest development in the Abraham Accords, which saw Israel normalise relations with the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco in 2020 agreements brokered by the (Donald) Trump administration."

The Israeli newspaper said the Iranian nuclear deal will figure high on the agenda, as both Cairo and Abu Dhabi "are concerned about Iran's support of proxies throughout the region."

Other shared interests, Israeli media said, include tension between the Washington, Cairo and Abu Dhabi regarding the continuation of the Russian war on Ukraine and the rise in wheat prices, and the possibility of increasing oil production by the UAE to lower global oil prices.

Anger towards US

Israel Today newspaper described Tuesday's summit between the leaders of Egypt, the UAE and Israel as the "the product of anger towards US President, Joe Biden."

It said, citing an unnamed Israeli government source, that the tripartite summit was "secretly planned" a few days ago.

"Officially, the meeting was planned to announce the renewal of flights between Sharm El-Sheikh and Ben Gurion International Airport," the source said. However, the summit comes as a result of the trio's anger towards the US over the progress of nuclear talks with Iran.

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According to Israel media, Israel seeks to play a mediator role between Abu Dhabi and Washington "to calm tensions" between the two allies over the Gulf State's hosting of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad last week.

State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, said Washington was "profoundly disappointed and troubled by this apparent attempt to legitimise" the Syrian leader.

Al-Assad's visit to the UAE was his first to an Arab country since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

Haaretz newspaper said Tel Aviv "is interested in convincing the UAE and Saudi Arabia to boost their oil production to reduce the world's dependence on Russia oil" as the two Gulf States refused to give in to US pressure to increase oil production.

Israeli media said Abu Dhabi is unhappy with US lack of support against attack by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, who escalated their drone and missile attacks on the UAE and Saudi Arabia in recent months.

Wheat crisis

Haaretz noted that Israel is also interested in helping Egypt find alternative sources of wheat as the worsening Russian-Ukrainian conflict affects supply of the commodity. Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer.

"On another economic front, Israel wishes to assist Egypt in finding alternative sources of wheat," it said.

"Up until the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the country was dependent on wheat from Ukraine and Russia. It has also been hurt by a spike in world wheat prices due to the war."

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, Russia and Ukraine are major global food producers and exporters.

Russia is the world's largest exporter of wheat, and Ukraine is the fifth largest. Together, they provide 19 per cent of the world's barley supply, 14 per cent of wheat, and 4 per cent of maize, making up more than one-third of global cereal exports.

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