Israeli president to continue UAE state visit despite Houthi ballistic missile

Israeli President Isaac Herzog will continue his United Arab Emirates visit as planned, his office has confirmed, after the Gulf state said it had intercepted a ballistic missile launched by Iran-backed Yemen's Houthi rebels.

"The president has been briefed on the details of the incident," a statement by Mr Herzog's office said. "There was no danger posed nor is there danger posed to the president and his delegation."

The Emirati defence ministry said the missile was intercepted and destroyed on Monday morning, adding that its debris fell on an uninhabited area. It did not say where the missile was targeting and it was the third-such attack in recent weeks.

Houthi military spokesman Yehia Sarei tweeted that the rebels would make an announcement about an attack in the coming hours that reached into "the depths of the UAE".

The missile fire further escalates tensions across the Persian Gulf, which previously had seen a series of assaults near - but never indisputably on - Emirati soil, as Yemen's war continues to rage.

Deepening ties between the two nations

President Herzog arrived in the UAE on Sunday in the first official visit by the country's head of state.

The visit is the latest sign of deepening ties between the two nations as tensions rise in the region, with mutual hostility towards Iran and fears over its nuclear programme pushing them closer together.

On Sunday, Mr Herzog discussed security and bilateral relations with Abu Dhabi's powerful Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the de facto Emirati leader.

During two hours of talks, Mr Herzog urged more countries in the region to join in recognising Israel and condemned the recent aerial attacks on Abu Dhabi claimed by Houthi rebels.

'A common view'

"I wish to emphasise that we completely support your security requirements and we condemn in all forms and language any attack on your sovereignty," Mr Herzog told Sheikh Mohammed, according to his office.

Sheikh Mohammed said the two countries share a "common view of the threats to regional stability and peace, particularly those posed by militias and terrorist forces".

Media coverage has been tightly controlled, with journalists invited neither by the Israeli leader nor by Emirati authorities, and no accompanying news conferences.

'Denial of rights'

The UAE and Israel normalised relations in the 2020 in a series of US-brokered diplomatic deals between Israel and Arab states, which had long-avoided formal relations with Israel over its decades-old conflict with the Palestinians.

Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas, which opposes countries normalising relations with Israel, said such visits "encourage the occupation to continue escalating its aggression against our Palestinian people and denial of their rights".

Yemen: UN condemns airstrike on temporary detention centre that killed at least 82 people

Although the UAE has largely withdrawn its own forces from Yemen, it is still actively engaged in the conflict. It supports militias fighting the Houthis, who seized Yemen's capital, Sanaa, in September 2014.

The missile attacks targeting the UAE come as the Houthis face pressure and are suffering heavy losses on the battlefield.

Yemeni government forces, allied and backed by the UAE, have pushed back the rebels in key provinces.

Aided by the Emirati-backed Giants Brigades, the government forces took back the province of Shabwa earlier this month in a blow to Houthi efforts to complete their control of the entire northern half of Yemen.