New Israeli Foreign Minister Lands on UAE on First Official Visit


Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Israel’s new foreign minister landed in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, launching the first high-level trip to the Gulf Arab countries by Israeli authorities since the two countries normalized relations last year. did.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yair Lapid will open an Israeli embassy in the capital of Abu Dhabi, meet with senior Emirati officials, including Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and Israeli companies will showcase their technology. I am planning to attend the trade exposition.

The ministry described it as a “historical visit” to the Gulf Kingdom. Press access to the opening of the Abu Dhabi embassy was strictly restricted to state-linked Emirati Media.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates established full diplomatic relations under the Trump administration last year after they signed the US-mediated “Abraham Agreement.”

The Arab League has become the third and fourth Arab state to sign a peace agreement with the Jewish state, following Egypt and Jordan, with the addition of Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel.

Nine months after the two countries signed a normalization agreement at the White House, Israel and the UAE have signed an extensive trade and cooperation agreement, with bilateral trade already expected to exceed $ 354 million. .. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, more than 200,000 Israeli tourists visited the UAE.

Rapid became Israeli Foreign Minister after an oath by the new Israeli government earlier this month. Yesh Atid has signed a power-sharing agreement with Naftali Bennett, the head of a coalition of eight diverse parties, from Jewish transnationalists to the small Hezbi Islami, who became the prime minister of Israel.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has postponed repeated visits to Abu Dhabi due to a coronavirus pandemic, but was finally elected on March 23 due to diplomatic quarrels with neighboring Jordan. I canceled my visit in advance.

According to Israeli media reports, Netanyahu has banned members of his government from traveling to the UAE until he has the opportunity to make an official visit.

After Rapid departed for Abu Dhabi, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Rior Hyatt told reporters that the pace of bilateral cooperation between the two countries was “unprecedented.”

“There have been years of radar relationships between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and we are now enjoying the fruits of the peace infrastructure we have built over the last few decades,” said Hyatt. I did.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have long maintained a secret security relationship before normalizing their relationship last year because of common concerns about the region’s archenemy Iran.

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Ben Zion reported from Jerusalem.

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