Israel Asks UAE Crown Prince to Visit as Peace Moves Intensify

Peace moves between Israel and the United Arab Emirates gathered pace as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin invited UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed to visit Jerusalem, while technology and aviation companies announced tie-up plans.

In his letter to the prince, Rivlin said the two countries had embarked on a process that he hoped would “set our region forward and bring economic well-being and provide prosperity and stability to the people of the Middle East as a whole.”

Israel and the UAE disclosed on Thursday that they had decided to put aside decades of official animosity in favor of normalizing ties that had existed unofficially for years. Distrust of Iran and its regional and nuclear ambitions played a major role, and Israeli and American officials have said they expect other Arab nations to follow the UAE’s suit.

Israel’s technology minister on Monday predicted imminent collaboration with the Gulf Arab nation in cyber security and space research.

“The timelines are quite immediate,” Izhar Shay said on Monday in an interview on Bloomberg TV. Israel will benefit from UAE investment while sharing its “vast amount of intellectual property with our new friends in the Emirates,” he added.

Dubai-based Emirates airline said it was looking into starting flights to Israel if demand allows, and Israir Airlines Ltd. has started applying for a landing permit in the UAE. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he’s trying to arrange permission for flights to cross over Saudi Arabia so they can travel direct.

The kingdom currently doesn’t allow Israeli airlines to pass over its territory though in recent years it has permitted flights bound for or leaving Israel to enter its airspace.

On Sunday, the UAE summoned the Iranian charges d’affaires in Abu Dhabi over President Hassan Rouhani’s reaction to the deal, which it deemed “inflammatory.” The pact with Israel is “a sovereign decision” that is “forward looking” and is not directed at Iran, Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, said on Monday.

“We do not accept any interference in our decisions,” Gargash said. “Just as we reject threats, whether they come from a place of worry or for the purpose of bullying.”

Rouhani had condemned the deal as a “mistake” on Saturday and warned the UAE not to let Israel into the region.

The Palestinians, who had counted on Gulf Arab states as a bulwark against Israel, have denounced the UAE move as a betrayal.

The criticism hasn’t halted a string of announcements on cooperation. On Sunday, the UAE unblocked calls with Israel in a landmark phone conversation between Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan and his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi. Israeli wireless operator Partner Communications said it was in advanced talks to form a mutual roaming service agreement with Emirates Telecommunications Corp. And UAE-based APEX National Investment agreed to conduct research on the coronavirus with Israel’s TeraGroup.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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