Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed four agreements during the first high-level visit from the Gulf state to Tel Aviv since the controversial move by the two countries last month to establish official ties.
Emirati Finance Minister Obaid Humaid al-Tayer and several senior officials from the UAE on Tuesday were accompanied by United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi to Ben-Gurion international airport.
Speaking at a welcoming ceremony at the airport, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked US President Donald Trump and UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for their roles in sealing the normalisation deal, which was sharply criticised by the Palestinians.
Following Netanyahu’s speech, Israel and the UAE signed an agreement to promote and protect investments, a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in science and innovation, an aviation agreement and a visa-exemption agreement.
With the pacts, the UAE became the first Arab nation to lift visa requirements for Israeli nationals.
In addition, US International Development Finance Corporation CEO Adam Boehler announced the establishment of the Abraham Fund, according to a commitment made in the normalisation agreement signed in September.
“The US International Development Finance Corporation, the UAE, and Israel will mobilize more than 3 billion dollars in private sector-led investment and development initiatives to promote regional economic cooperation and prosperity in the Middle East and beyond,” the US embassy in Israel said in a statement.
Ahmed al-Sayegh, the UAE’s minister of state, said the fund “reflects the desire of the three countries to put the wellbeing of people first, regardless of their creed or identity,” the statement added.
At a White House ceremony on September 15, Bahrain and the UAE signed agreements to establish full diplomatic, cultural and commercial relations with Israel.
The controversial deals have drawn widespread condemnation from Palestinians, who say the accords ignore their rights and do not serve the Palestinian cause.