Yair Lapid, on UAE trip, opens first Israeli embassy in Gulf – News Vibe24

    Yair Lapid, on UAE trip, opens first Israeli embassy in Gulf - Times of India
    ABU DHABI: Top Israeli diplomat Yer Lapid opened the Jewish state’s first embassy in the Gulf during a trip to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, nine months after a normalization deal was signed.
    He met with his Emirati counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahan, in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, posting a photo of the two shaking hands shortly after the embassy opened.
    Lapid also wrote a photo of himself and UAE Minister Noura al-Kaabi cutting a ribbon in the blue and white of the Israeli flag.
    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed the opening as “historic”.
    Lapid’s visit and the opening of the first Israeli embassy in a Gulf state are “important for Israel, the UAE and the wider region,” he said in a statement.
    Israeli ministers have visited the UAE in the past, but the newly formed Lapid became the senior Israeli to make the trip and the first on an official mission.
    “Israel wants peace with its neighbors. With all its neighbors. We are not going anywhere. The Middle East is our home. We are here to stay. We call on all countries in the region to recognize it. And come and talk to us. “, said Lapid at the opening ceremony.
    Lapid and his UAE counterpart signed an economic and trade co-operation agreement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
    The agreement, subject to the approval of both governments and renewable every five years, also concerns co-operation in exhibitions and the exchange of delegations, he added.
    Since the signing of the US smuggling agreement last September, Israel and the UAE have signed a series of agreements, from tourism to air and financial services.
    During his two-day visit, Lapid will meet with “five (Emirati) ministers in less than 30 hours,” said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Hayat.
    Lapid, who is expected to become Israeli prime minister in two years under a coalition government deal, was also set to open a consulate in Dubai.
    Lapid’s journey comes almost a year after nations moved to normalize ties, and follows a series of visits by Israeli officials that were planned and then dismantled on issues such as the Covid pandemic and diplomatic conflicts.
    In March, a scheduled official visit by then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was canceled due to a “disagreement” with Jordan over the use of its airspace, according to Israeli officials.
    Netanyahu, who was replaced as prime minister by Jewish nationalist Naftali Bennett in a coalition government ousted by Lapid weeks ago, had already postponed a February visit to the UAE and Bahrain over travel restrictions.
    According to the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu tried to prevent Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi from paying an official visit to the UAE to prevent him from stealing the limelight before the March elections.
    In August 2020, former White House Chief of Staff Jared Kushner and Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat made history by flying an El Al plane from Abu Dhabi to Israel.
    This came from both sides as a major breakthrough in the Middle East peace effort, signaled by the El Al aircraft that touches the word “peace” in English, Arabic and Hebrew.
    The reconciliation agreements Israel signed last year with the UAE and then also with Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan were condemned by the Palestinians.
    The agreements are suspended for years of Arab politics without relations with Israel until they are reconciled with the Palestinians.
    Hazem Qasim, a spokesman for the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas, said the opening of the embassy showed that the UAE was “insisting” on the “sin” of implementing the normalization agreement.
    Also Tuesday, Bahrain appointed its first ambassador to Israel.
    Lapid is a former central television presenter who has persistently forged Israel’s new coalition, ending Netanyahu’s more than a decade as prime minister.
    He has sought to break with his opponent’s policies, saying on Monday that the Netanyahu government had made a “terrible bet” focusing only on ties with the Republican Party in Washington.


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