Historic arrival of the first-ever delegation from the United Arab Emirates arrives in Israel.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
The first official delegation from the government of the United Arab Emirates arrived in Israel Tuesday for the historic launch of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
“Today we are making history, we are making history in a way that will stand for generations,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a gala welcoming reception after the Etihad Airlines plane carrying the delegation landed at Ben Gurion International Airport.
“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,” Netanyahu said.
“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,” the prime minister 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.”
“We are signing four agreements that will make a tangible difference for our peoples,” Netanyahu said, citing deals on investment, cooperation in science and technology, and civil aviation that will establish direct flights and exemption of the need for visas for Emiratis and Israelis to visit each other’s countries.
“Ultimately, Jews and Arabs are the descendants of one common ancestor – Avraham, Abraham, Ibrahim – and it is in his name that we have designated this historic peace initiative,” Netanyahu said, referring to the Abraham Accords Israel signed last month at the White House with with both the UAE and Bahrain.
“I think that the visit of such a high-level delegation from the UAE and the agreements that we are about to sign will show our peoples, the region and the entire world the benefit of having friendly, peaceful and normal exchanges.”
‘A Glorious Day of Peace’
Netanyahu thanked U.S. President Donald Trump and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan for making the peace agreement possible.
“We shall remember this day, a glorious day of peace,” he declared. “We would not be here today without America’s support.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin represented the Trump Administration at the ceremony. He traveled on the flight along with special peace negotiator Avi Berkowitz.
“The Abraham Accords established direct economic ties between two of the Middle East’s most thriving and advanced economies. These ties create a tremendous foundation for economic growth, opportunity, innovation and prosperity,” Mnuchin said.
“With greater economic prosperity comes stronger security. Along with the United States, Israel and the UAE share a similar outlook regarding threats and opportunities in the region,” Mnuchin added.
UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al Tayer said he was honored to be in Israel for what he called an “informative and productive visit to deepen the bilateral understanding and capitalizing on both countries’ leadership and great opportunities ahead of us.”
Al Tayer said the two countries had already made major progress in the short time since the Abraham Accords were signed September 15.
“The UAE will continue to be the regional leader in terms of economic reform, openness in international trade, political stability and peace making,” Al Tayer said.
Trilateral $3 Billion Investment Fund
The three countries announced the creation of a trilateral $3 billion investment fund that “will go a long way to boost even further the historic change that we’re doing. This is an investment in infrastructure. It’s really an investment in the future and in many projects,” Netanyahu said.
Tuesday’s visit by the UAE ministers took place just one day after the governments of the UAE and Bahrain approved their respective agreements establishing diplomatic ties with Israel.
On Sunday the two countries agreed to set up 28 direct flights weekly between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, but the full schedule is not expected to start until coronavirus infection rates in the region come down.
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