(Bloomberg) -- Israel’s President Isaac Herzog is planning a quick visit to Dubai later this week to take part in COP28, the United Nations climate talks, several people familiar with the situation said.
It will be his first trip abroad since the war with Hamas erupted last month. The plans are subject to last-minute changes if there are significant developments in the conflict.
While in the United Arab Emirates, he may meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo. Others expected to attend COP include US Vice President Kamala Harris and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
While Herzog’s role is largely ceremonial — executive power’s held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — he’s become more visible since the war started, speaking to and meeting world leaders to bolster support for Israel.
The conflict began on Oct. 7 when Hamas operatives crossed into Israel from Gaza, killing 1,200 people and abducting 24O, according to Israeli officials. More than 15,000 have been killed in Gaza since Israel retaliated with airstrikes and a ground offensive, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.
Herzog is taking representatives from the communities around Gaza that were attacked by Hamas to the UAE. He’s also planning a series of diplomatic meetings that are mainly about the war and not the environment, two people familiar with the matter said.
Israel and Hamas, designated a terrorist group by the US and European Union, agreed to a truce last week that’s now in its sixth day. Under the agreement, Hamas is freeing some of the hostages each day and Israel is releasing Palestinian prisoners.
More aid is also getting into Gaza, where more than 1 million people have been displaced and hunger and disease are spreading.
US President Joe Biden is keen for the cease-fire to be extended, which Israel says it’s open to as long as Hamas agrees to release more captives. Netanyahu has insisted, though, that Israel won’t pull back from its goal of destroying Hamas.
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Netanyahu was invited to COP months ago by the UAE government. Before the war broke out, he was widely expected to attend.
The UAE and Israel only formally recognized each in 2020, under the Abraham Accords mediated by the US.
--With assistance from Ryotaro Nakamaru and Henry Meyer.
(Adds focus of Herzog visit in 6th paragraph)
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