Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife was in a Jerusalem hospital receiving treatment for appendicitis Thursday, as the premier had been expected to make a historic visit to the United Arab Emirates.
Hadassah hospital confirmed to AFP that it had admitted Sarah Netanyahu, without providing further details.
Israeli public radio, the Haaretz newspaper and other media reported that Netanyahu had been set to make his first official visit to the UAE on Thursday, information not confirmed by the premier’s office.
Media outlets have linked Sarah Netanyahu’s illness to a delay in the UAE trip. The prime minister’s office has declined to comment on those reports.
Israel and the UAE established ties last year in a diplomatic coup for Netanyahu brokered by his staunch ally, US president Donald Trump.
The deal made UAE only the third Arab state to establish relations with Israel, following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan subsequently reached similar US-brokered agreements with Israel.
Netanyahu had been set to visit the UAE and Bahrain in February, but the trip was put off after Israel imposed travel restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
Netanyahu, in power since 2009, has sought to burnish his credentials as Israel’s leading statesman as part of his re-election pitch ahead of March 23 polls and a UAE visit could aid that effort.
Netanyahu is expected to meet his Czech and Hungarian counterparts Andrej Babis and Viktor Orban in Jerusalem on Thursday evening for talks on the vaccination effort against Covid-19.
Israel has given the two recommended doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab to roughly 40 percent of its nine-million strong population, while both the Czech Republic and Hungary have been struggling with their vaccine rollouts.