Israel’s new foreign minister will head to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next week for the first-ever visit by a top Israeli diplomat to the Gulf Arab country, the ministry said Today.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s trip comes after the two countries normalized relations last year in an agreement brokered by the Trump administration, the first of four similar deals with Arab states that had long shunned Israel over its conflict with the Palestinians.
Both Israel’s new government and the Biden administration have said that they hope to reach similar accords with other Arab states. Israel and the UAE have meanwhile continued working to strengthen ties despite last month’s Gaza war.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said Lapid will visit the UAE June 29-30 and will inaugurate an Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate in Dubai.
Ties between Israel and the UAE are an important relationship, the fruits of which will be enjoyed not only by the citizens of the two countries but by the entire Middle East, it said in a statement.
The Biden administration put that agreement on hold in January after it drew fierce criticism from Democrats in Congress, who argued that the sale had unfolded too quickly and without sufficient transparency. But in April, the administration decided to proceed with the 23 billion arms sale, saying it would work with the UAE to ensure adherence to human rights standards and the laws of war.
The Palestinians strongly criticized the normalization agreements because they broke down a longstanding Arab consensus that recognition of Israel should only be granted in return for concessions in the peace process, which has been expiring for more than a decade.