Israeli foreign minister in UAE on first official visit

Yair Lapid in March 2021

In the past, Israel and the UAE have had a tetchy relationship. This is no longer the case. The two countries signed an agreement signaling a rapprochement one year ago.

The situation now is a far cry from when I used to try and contact Israel from Dubai. The telephone would ring but no one would answer. I wonder why? Emails would also leave (or so I thought) but they would never arrive.

Now the Israeli foreign minister has visited Dubai.

Here's the story by Reuters.

Israeli foreign minister in UAE on first official visit

JERUSALEM, June 29 (Reuters) - Israel's foreign minister landed in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday in the first official visit by an Israeli minister to the Gulf state since the two countries established diplomatic relations last year.

During the two-day visit, Yair Lapid is set to inaugurate Israel's embassy in Abu Dhabi and its consulate in Dubai, as well as sign an agreement on economic cooperation, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said.

Lapid posted on Twitter a picture of himself during take-off, calling the visit "historic".

The UAE, along with Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, began normalising relations with Israel last year under the Abraham Accords brokered by then-U.S. President Donald Trump and which marked a strategic realignment of Middle East countries against Iran.

Tuesday's agreement will be the 12th between Israel and the UAE since then, Haiat said.

Lapid is also set to visit the site of Expo 2020 Dubai, a world fair opening in October where Israel has built a pavilion.

Lapid's plane transited through Saudi airspace. Riyadh, although not having normalised relations with Israel, last year opened its skies to Israel-UAE flights.

The UAE formally opened its embassy in Tel Aviv, temporarily located in the Tel Aviv stock exchange, to little fanfare this month.

Israel's Abu Dhabi embassy is also in a temporary location.

"We are planning for it to be a big one, an important one," Haiat said. "For the time being we are talking about three diplomats."

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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Tuesday, 03 August 2021