The UAE and Bahrain normalized relations with Israel last year under the “Abraham Accords,” which were crafted by then-US President Donald Trump’s administration in response to shared concerns over Iran.
At a flag-raising ceremony attended by Israel’s president, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) became the first Gulf state to open an embassy in Israel on Wednesday, with its envoy hailing the economic and investment potential that stronger ties would offer.
Sudan and Morocco have since established diplomatic relations with Israel.
“We have seen for the first time discussions on trade and investment potential since the normalization of ties,” UAE ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja said outside the building after raising his country’s flag. “We signed big agreements in a variety of spheres, including the economy, air transport, technology, and culture,” said the president.
The opening of the UAE embassy in Tel Aviv, which is located in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, comes after Israel’s embassy in the UAE was inaugurated last month. The opening of the embassy, according to Israeli President Isaac Herzog, is “an important milestone in our journey towards the future, peace, prosperity, and security” in the Middle East.
“A year ago, seeing the Emirati flag flying proudly in Tel Aviv could have looked like a pipe dream,” he remarked. “Nothing could be more natural and typical in many respects.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who was in the UAE last month to open Israel’s temporary embassy in Abu Dhabi and consulate in Dubai, said bilateral trade had reached $675 million since normalization and that he expected further deals.
The Palestinians, who want their demands for statehood free of Israeli occupation handled first, have criticized the regional reconciliation.
Last year’s US-brokered accords, which challenged a decades-long loyalty to Palestinian objectives as a main driver of Arab diplomacy, were ultimately beneficial to Palestinians, according to the UAE.