Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg / Flash 90
Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz.

Foreign / Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz seized the opportunity of being in Abu Dhabi for a meeting on the environment to speak with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the issue of the living hostages and deceased IDF soldiers, whose bodies are still being held captive by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

The two day UN-led Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting brought together more than 1,700 government ministers, business leaders and environment experts from some 160 countries to review what has been accomplished since the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

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Katz spent only 24 hours in the Gulf State, having arrived there Sunday to attend the UN meeting, only to leave on Monday. But during that time the minister met with Guterres on the issue of Israel’s hostages, who have yet to be freed.

He also met with a senior United Arab Emirates official, a move clearly reflective of Israel’s new position in the region.

According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry, Katz and his UAE counterpart discussed ways to develop the growing ties between the two countries, especially in the fields of hi-tech, energy, agriculture and water management – an area of particular concern in Middle Eastern countries which are constantly faced with the threat of drought.

The two men focused their attention, however, on regional issues, including the threat of a nuclear Iran, its drive to develop and refine its ballistic missile program, and its support for terrorist proxies.

“I am excited to stand here in Abu Dhabi and to represent the interests of the State of Israel vis-à-vis the Arab Gulf states,” Katz said. “This is a significant step up in the relations between Israel and the states in the region.

The minister presented his “Tracks to Peace” plan linking the Gulf nations to the Mediterranean Sea via a railway running through Jordan and Israel – the same plan he presented at a transportation conference he attended as Israel’s Transportation Minister last November.

“I will continue to work with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to promote the normalization policy from a position of strength, based on Israel’s capabilities, both in the fields of security and intelligence, and in the various civilian spheres,” Katz said.

“I see this as one of my major challenges as foreign minister, and I intend to continue leading this policy in the future.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.