Emirati Delegation Meets Netanyahu at Ben-Gurion

  • Israeli officials said that the visit will be limited to the airport due to fears of the Coronavirus.
  • The Emirati delegation will sign a set of agreements on aviation, investments, science and technology.
  • The Palestinians see a departure from the Arab consensus by signing these agreements with Israel by the Gulf states.

As part of a high-level delegation, the United Arab Emirates’ Economy and Finance Ministers arrived in Israel, where they were received by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two sides will sign several agreements in the fields of visas, aviation, investment, science and technology.

PM Netanyahu speaking at a ceremony signing during which Israel and the UAE signed four bilateral agreements at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport, October 20, 2020.

The Emirati delegation arrived in Israel on an official visit that will last for several hours, representing the first ministerial-level visit from the UAE to Israel. The delegation arrived on an Etihad plane.

Israeli officials said that the visit will be limited to the airport due to fears of the Coronavirus.

“Today we are making history,” Prime Minister Netanyahu declared minutes after the Etihad plane landed in Tel Aviv. “The enthusiasm for this peace agreement among our people is enormous. It’s real, it’s broad, it’s deep, and it reflects the potential that is realized today.”

Important Agreements Awaiting Signatures

The Emirati delegation will sign a set of agreements on aviation, investments, science and technology, in the first official visit by officials from the Gulf country since the two countries normalized relations last month.

Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that Israel and the UAE agreed to exempt citizens of both countries from travel visas, making the UAE the first Arab country to exclude its citizens from this procedure to enter the Jewish State.

“The visit of such a high-level delegation from the UAE, and the agreements we are about to sign, will show our peoples, the region and the entire world the benefit of having friendly, peaceful, normal exchanges,” he said. “I believe that more and more governments across the Middle East understand, as we do here today, that we’re so much better off working together, as friends.”

Addressing the delegation head, Minister of State for Financial Affairs Hamid Obaid Al-Tayer, and US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.

The economies of the UAE and Israel, affected by the new Coronavirus, are looking forward to reaping the fruits of normalization. This has broken years of Arab consensus on not establishing relations with Israel until it reaches peace with the Palestinians.

According to an Israeli government statement, during the visit of the Emirati delegation, “agreements in the field of aviation, investment protection, exemption from visas, science and technology will be signed.” In addition, the two governments are supposed to sign an agreement that allows 28 commercial flights per week between the two countries.

Secretary Mnuchin attended a business dinner with Emirati and Israeli officials in Abu Dhabi on Monday. “This morning, the UAE is preparing to send the first official delegation to Israel,” Hind Maneh Al-Otaiba, Director of Strategic Communication at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wrote in a tweet before the start of the trip.

From L to R: US Secretary Mnuchin, PM Netanyahu and UAE UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al Tayer at a ceremony during which Israel and the UAE signed four bilateral agreements at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport, October 20, 2020.

Acceleration of the Normalization Pace

On September 15, Israel signed an agreement to establish relations with the UAE in Washington, under the patronage of US President Donald Trump. This is the first agreement with a Gulf State, and the third in the Arab World, after Jordan in 1994 and Egypt in 1979.

It also signed a  similar agreement with Bahrain in Manama on Sunday to establish relations. The two accords give Israel an unprecedented foothold in the wealthy Gulf region.

Several Arab states have discreetly maintained contacts with the Israeli authorities for years. However, the normalization of relations provides many opportunities, especially economic ones, for those countries that are trying to get rid of the consequences of the emerging Coronavirus crisis.

The Palestinians see a departure from the Arab consensus by signing these agreements with Israel by the Gulf states. Previously, they had made resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a prerequisite for peace with the Jewish State.

Reuters quoted a Palestinian official— whom it did not name— describing the visit of the Emirati delegation to Israel as “shameful.”

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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