Concerns about Iran are expected to be high on the agenda after the Biden administration's early diplomatic overtures to Tehran bore no immediate fruit.

Emirati, Israeli and American flags fly upon the arrival of Israeli and US delegates at Abu Dhabi International Airport, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 31, 2020.
Emirati, Israeli and American flags fly upon the arrival of Israeli and US delegates at Abu Dhabi International Airport, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 31, 2020. (Reuters)

Top diplomats from Israel and the United Arab Emirates are set to hold three-way talks in Washington as President Joe Biden's administration embraces and looks to expand a normalisation drive.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday will meet separately and together with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, following a similar virtual event last month.

Former president Donald Trump considered last year's so-called Abraham Accords to be a crowning achievement for his administration as the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco became the first Arab states to normalise relations with Israel in decades.

Despite their myriad policy differences, the Biden team has given credit to the Trump administration over the Abraham Accords, dismissing criticism that normalisation ignores the plight of the Palestinians.

A transactional normalisation?

Trump's approach was also seen as transactional as he agreed to sell state-of-the-art fighter jets to the UAE and recognise Morocco's controversial claim over Western Sahara – moves that Biden has not changed.

A senior State Department official said the three nations will announce working groups to expand cooperation on energy and water – a scarce resource in the Middle East – as well as religious coexistence.

Both Israel and the UAE have boasted of dividends since signing their accord.

Israel has made progress in its long-term goal of ending its isolation in its near neighbourhood, while the UAE has voiced hope at $1 trillion in new economic activity over the next decade through trade.

The US official said the Biden administration was "actively working to expand" normalisation but declined to give specifics.

Sudan, under heavy arm-twisting from Trump, said last year it would seek relations with Israel but has baulked amid heavy pressure on the country's fragile new civilian-backed government.

READ MORE: Israel’s trade with UAE and other Arab states surged by 234 percent in 2021

Quiet disagreement on Iran

Lapid, a centrist who crafted a coalition to unseat the divisive Netanyahu, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett have kept many of the former government's international priorities – including a pressure drive on Iran, whose nuclear programme has been hindered by a slew of sabotage attacks widely blamed on Israel.

Calling for peaceful solutions, Biden has sought to rejoin a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran that was bitterly opposed by Israel and trashed by Trump, leading Tehran to revive contested nuclear work that it had wound down.

In a meeting on Tuesday with Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, Lapid called for "the need for an alternative plan to the nuclear agreement," according to the Israeli embassy.

But the new government has been mindful to keep disagreements more civil after Israel faced a heavy backlash from Biden's Democratic Party when Netanyahu openly campaigned against former president Barack Obama's diplomacy.

READ MORE: Will the Arab-Israeli normalisation last? 

Source: AFP