Middle East

UAE opens its embassy in Israel

Mohamed al-Khaja becomes first UAE ambassador to Israel

Abdelraouf Arna'out   | 14.07.2021
UAE opens its embassy in Israel

JERUSALEM

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) opened its embassy in Israel on Wednesday in the presence of Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed al-Khaja and the Israeli president cut the opening tape during the embassy inauguration ceremony.

“This embassy will not only be a residence for diplomats but a basis for our mission to build relations between us and strengthen partnership and dialogue," al-Khaja said in a speech during the ceremony.

The Emirati diplomat described the opening of the embassy as "an important milestone," marking "a significant point in the vision of the Abraham Accords" and cooperation between the two countries.

"Since the signing of the (normalization) agreement, we have seen trade talks and bilateral investment opportunities, as well as collaborations between hospitals and universities," al-Khaja said.

In turn, Herzog said, "Seeing the UAE flag in Tel Aviv was a distant dream just a year ago and now it looks normal.”

“We made the impossible possible," he said.

Herzog added that the opening of the UAE embassy was an important step for the entire Middle East not just for Israeli-Emirati relations.

Palestinian groups quickly condemned the opening of the UAE Embassy in Israel.

"History will record that at the same time when Israel is escalating its crimes in Jerusalem (and continuing) home demolitions and storming Al-Aqsa Mosque, the

UAE rulers are opening their embassy (in Israel)," Tareq Selmi, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad group, said in a statement.

He added that normalization with Israel will remain "treason and a crime whatsoever the justifications are."

Hamas group said in a statement that: "The UAE's opening of its embassy to the Zionist entity is an insistence on the great sin against our Palestinian people and all the peoples of the region."

"The most dangerous thing is that this behavior comes from the Emirates in the wake of the terrorist Zionist aggression against our people and their sacred places ... which represents a dangerous decline in Emirati politics," the group said.

Hamas went on to call for stopping what it termed "the dangerous deterioration in Emirati politics, working to correct this wrong path … and ending all forms of dealing and normalization with the occupation."

Last month, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid inaugurated his country’s embassy and consulate in the UAE.

In September 2020, the UAE and Israel signed a US-sponsored deal to normalize their relations. Since then, the two countries have signed dozens of bilateral agreements in various fields, including investment, banking services, and tourism.

*Ahmed Asmar and Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara

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