DUBAI: The first delegation of UAE officials to visit Israel cemented a historic normalization deal with a series of meetings and agreements on Tuesday.
The Emiratis landed in Israel’s Ben Gurion airport, where they were met by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and agreed a multibillion-dollar fund.
The parties signed four agreements including one on visa-free travel – the first of its kind between Israel and an Arab country.
Other deals were on the promotion and protection of investments, cooperation in science and innovation and civil aviation.
The five-hour-long meeting – held in the airport because of coronavirus precautions – saw the announcement of the $3 billion Abrahamic fund for development and initiative in the private sector, UAE’s state news agency WAM reported.
“The fund reflects the three countries’ desire to prioritize people’s wellbeing regardless of their religious beliefs and identities,” UAE’s Minister of State to the United Arab Emirates Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh said.
The trilateral meeting between Israel, US and UAE was attended be Netanyahu, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, US Assistant to the President Avi Berkowitz, UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al-Tayer and UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla Bin Touq Al-Marri.
The three nations will also set up a development office in Israel to study and initiate projects, aimed at creating a positive impact on economic growth, living standards and create high quality jobs.
This morning UAE prepares to send its first official delegation to Israel, led by HE Obaid Al Tayer and HE Abdulla Bin Touq, and accompanied by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pic.twitter.com/V6o1v8QbuU— هند مانع العتيبة Hend Al Otaiba (@hend_mana) October 20, 2020
“We will sign four agreements that will change the path of the people of UAE and Israel,” said Netanyahu. Israel and the UAE have already signed several commercial deals since mid-August, when they first announced they would establish full relations.
“The agreements will strengthen bilateral relations between UAE and Israel,” said Al-Tayer. The UAE and fellow Gulf state Bahrain in September became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to sign deals to establish formal ties with Israel, a move that Washington and its allies have said would foster regional peace and stability but which has been rejected by the Palestinians.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Middle East envoy Ari Berkowitz are joining them on the trip, after having accompanied an Israeli delegation to Bahrain on Sunday for a signing ceremony to formalize ties.
The UAE, along with Bahrain, signed the Abraham Accords to normalize relations with Israel in Washington last month. They became the first Arab nations after Egypt and Jordan to agree to have relations with the Jewish state.
Palestinian leaders have been angered by the agreement, saying they have not been included in Trump’s overall Middle East peace plan.