‘Today we make history’: UAE delegation lands in Israel for first official visit

“Today we are making history,” said Netanyahu in a speech from the tarmac.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A delegation of Emirati officials, among them members of the Emirati royal family, landed in Israel on Tuesday in a historic visit meant to cement diplomatic and business relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

The visit comes after the UAE-Bahrain-Israel normalization agreements, known as the Abraham Accords, were signed last month at the White House. Israel sent a delegation of government officials and journalists to Abu Dhabi in late August.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the first official visit of Emirati government representatives to the Jewish state. However, due to coronavirus concerns, the Emirati delegation did not leave the airport.

“Today we are making history,” he said in a speech from the tarmac. “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.”

During a welcoming ceremony for the Emirati delegation, Netanyahu announced that the UAE, US, and Israel are forming a $3 billion trilateral investment fund that will be based in Jerusalem.

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“The Abraham Fund investment 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.

UAE Finance Minister Obaid Humaid Al Tayer said he was proud to lead the first-ever Emirati delegation to Israel. He emphasized that the purpose of the visit was to “deepen bilateral understanding, capitalizing on both countries’ leadership and the great opportunities ahead.”

After the ceremony, the Emirati ministers met with their Israeli government counterparts in a series of government ministries. The officials are expected to sign four more bilateral agreements on Emirati-Israeli cooperation in a number of areas.

Foreign Ministry official Tamar Kaplan Turgeman told Kan News that the agreements “are significant in laying the groundwork for businesses and citizens — the aviation agreements, the visa waiver, a deal to protect and advance mutual investment, and a communique on science and tech cooperation.”

Reuters reported that Emirati and Israeli businessmen signed a deal in Abu Dhabi on Monday for cooperation on an oil pipeline.

The pipeline will streamline transportation of Emirati oil to Europe via a new pipeline that will pass through the Israeli cities of Eilat and Ashkelon.