According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Yair Lapid will inaugurate the Israeli Embassy in the capital of Abu Dhabi, meeting with senior Emirati officials, including Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and attending a trade exhibition where companies Israelis exhibit technology.
The ministry described it as a “historic visit” to the Gulf kingdom. Press access to the inauguration of the embassy in Abu Dhabi was strictly limited to the state-linked Emirati media.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates established full diplomatic relations last year under the Trump administration, after the two countries signed the “ Abraham Accords ” brokered by the United States.
The United Arab Emirates was joined by Bahrain in normalizing ties with Israel, becoming the third and fourth Arab states to sign peace accords with the Jewish state, after Egypt and Jordan.
In the nine months since the two countries signed the standardization agreement at the White House, Israel and the United Arab Emirates have signed extensive trade and cooperation agreements, with bilateral trade already expected to have exceeded $ 354 million. More than 200,000 Israeli tourists have traveled to the United Arab Emirates, the Foreign Ministry said.
Lapid took over as Israel’s foreign minister after Israel’s new government took office earlier this month. Party leader Yesh Atid struck a power-sharing agreement with Naftali Bennett, who became Israel’s prime minister at the head of a coalition of eight diverse parties, ranging from Jewish ultra-nationalists to a small Islamist party.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had repeatedly scheduled and postponed a visit to Abu Dhabi due to the coronavirus pandemic, but ultimately canceled the visit before the March 23 elections due to a diplomatic dispute with neighboring Jordan.
Netanyahu reportedly banned members of his government from traveling to the UAE until he had a chance for a state visit, according to Israeli media reports.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat told reporters after Lapid left for Abu Dhabi that the pace of bilateral cooperation between the two countries has been “ unprecedented. ”
“ There have been years of hidden relations between Israel and the UAE, and now we are enjoying the fruits of the peace infrastructure that we have built over the past decades, ” Haiat said.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates had long maintained clandestine security ties before normalizing relations last year due to their shared concerns about regional archenemy Iran.