UAE President wishes Israel a happy Passover as free trade agreement kicks in

The agreement will cut tariffs on more than 96% of products.

By World News Israel Staff

United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on Tuesday wished the people of Israel a happy Passover in a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, days after a landmark free trade agreement went into effect.

Netanyahu in turn wished bin Zayed and the people of the UAE a happy Ramadan.

The two leaders expressed their commitment to work to continue advancing the historic peace agreement between Israel and the UAE, including its expansion to additional important areas, a readout from Netanyahu’s office said.

According to analysts cited by the Reuters news agency, the UAE is committed to a long-term economic relationship with Israel despite recent tensions between the two countries.

On Saturday a free-trade agreement between the countries entered into effect, removing or reducing tariffs on more than 96% of products. Signed in May 2022 only a year and a half after the countries established diplomatic relations in the Abraham Accords, it was the fastest ever free trade accord negotiated in Israel’s history and the only with an Arab state.

Last year, bilateral trade reached more than $2.5 billion.

UAE energy giant ADNOC last week announced it was joining a $2 billion bid for half of Israeli offshore natural gas producer NewMed Energy, following a 2021 purchase by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Energy of a 22% stake in Israel‘s Tamar gas field for about $1 billion.

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“(The NewMed Energy bid) demonstrates a long–term investment in Israel‘s energy sector, which shows how strategic the relationship has become,” Neil Quilliam, associate fellow at Chatham House, and co-author of a new report on Israel–UAE normalization, told Reuters.

“And it ties in UAE interests into European energy security, which will act as a ballast against the EU’s strong push on net zero targets,” he added.

“No matter how bad things get though, the economic dimension of the partnership will sustain it through rough patches,” he told Reuters.