“This is only the beginning,” said the UAE Ambassador to Israel.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
The United Arab Emirates officially opened its embassy in Tel Aviv Wednesday morning, nearly one year after the historic Abraham Accords normalization agreement.
The inauguration, held in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange building, marks the first opening of an Arab Gulf country’s embassy in the Jewish State.
The first-ever Emirati ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Al Khaja, told reporters at the opening that the site will serve as “a base for our task to continue to build on our new partnership, to seek dialog, not dispute, to build a new paradigm of peace and to provide a model for a new collaborative approach to conflict resolution in the Middle East.”
“This is only the beginning,” Al Khaja added. “Since the normalization of relationships, we have seen trade talks and investment opportunities, as well as collaborations between hospitals and universities.”
Israeli president Isaac Herzog spoke at the inauguration, calling the opening “an important milestone in our shared journey toward a future of peace, prosperity and security for the Middle East.
“Seeing the [Emirati] flag in Tel Aviv was a distant dream just a year ago, and now it looks normal,” Herzog said. “We made the impossible possible.”
WATCH: In a moving ceremony, the #UAE officially inaugurated its embassy in Tel Aviv this morning.
What a beautiful way to celebrate peace between #Israel and the UAE! 🇮🇱❤️🇦🇪
— StandWithUs (@StandWithUs) July 14, 2021
After a flag-raising ceremony and speeches, al-Khaja rang the opening bell signifying the beginning of the trading day at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was noticeably absent from the event, just two weeks after he officially inaugurated the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Lapid returned yesterday from a trip to meet with European Union officials in Brussels and is currently in a coronavirus quarantine after one of his staff tested positive for the virus upon landing in Israel.
Former foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi attended the event in Lapid’s stead.
Like most countries, the UAE chose to open the embassy in Tel Aviv rather than in Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem, in order to maintain neutrality in the Israeli -Palestinian conflict.
The United States, Honduras, and Guatemala are the only countries to maintain official embassies in Jerusalem, though dozens of others have honorary consulates in the city.