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Israeli Foreign Minister to pay his first visit to the United Arab Emirates

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Israel’s new foreign minister will head to the United Arab Emirates next week for the first known visit by a senior Israeli diplomat to the Arab Gulf country, the ministry said on Monday.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s trip comes after the two countries normalized relations last year in a deal brokered by the Trump administration, the first of four similar deals with Arab states that had avoided Israel over its conflict with the Palestinians.

Both the new Israeli government and the Biden administration have said they hope to reach similar agreements with other Arab states. Israel and the United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, have continued to work to deepen ties despite last month’s war in Gaza.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Lapid will visit the United Arab Emirates June 29-30 and will inaugurate an Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate in Dubai.

“The ties between Israel and the UAE are an important relationship, the fruits of which will be enjoyed not only by the citizens of both countries, but by the entire Middle East,” she said in a statement.

Lapid was the driving force behind a new Israeli government sworn in just over a week ago that ended Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year record as prime minister. Netanyahu and Trump had kept the deals with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco as among their greatest achievements.

Israelis have flocked to the UAE since the deal was reached to enjoy futuristic Dubai. The UAE is a major global travel hub and normalization has made it much easier for Israelis to travel farther. The two countries have also signed a number of agreements to co-operate in trade, technology and other fields.

Israel’s I24NEWS announced Monday that it has secured a broadcasting license to operate in the UAE and will open its office in Dubai Media City. The 24-hour channel, which aims to cover international news from an Israeli perspective, has already been carried out by cable providers Etisalat and du UAE.

Shortly after the Israel-UAE agreement was reached, the Trump administration authorized the sale of 50 advanced F-35 fighter jets to the UAE, which would make it only the second country in the Middle East, after Israel, to buy them.

The Biden administration put that deal on hold in January after drawing harsh criticism from Democrats in Congress, who argued the sale had unfolded too quickly and without sufficient transparency. But in April, the administration decided to continue selling $ 23 billion in weapons, saying it would work with the UAE to ensure compliance with human rights standards and the laws of war.

The Palestinians strongly criticized the normalization deals because they shattered an old Arab consensus that recognition of Israel should only be granted in exchange for concessions in the peace process, which has been bleak for more than a decade.

Even before the normalization deals, the Gulf Arab countries had quietly cultivated closer ties with Israel over their common concerns about Iran. Senior Israeli officials reportedly made secret visits to the United Arab Emirates and other Arab countries in the years before relations normalized.

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