DUBAI: Senior UAE officials signed a raft of unprecedented cooperation agreements with Israel on Tuesday after an inaugural delegation landed in Tel Aviv.
Plans were also announced for a $3 billion investment fund to be managed along with the US, to boost private sector projects in the region.
“Today, we are making history in a way that will stand for generations,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the opening of the one-day meeting.
“I think that the visit of such a high-level delegation from the UAE ... will show our peoples, the region and the entire world the benefit of having friendly, peaceful and normal exchanges.”
The UAE delegation was led by Economy Minister Abdullah bin Touq Al-Mari, and Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al-Tayer.
They were accompanied by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other American officials on the Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi to Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.
This morning UAE prepares to send its first official delegation to Israel, led by HE Obaid Al Tayer and HE Abdulla Bin Touq, and accompanied by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pic.twitter.com/V6o1v8QbuU
— هند مانع العتيبة Hend Al Otaiba (@hend_mana) October 20, 2020
Mnuchin described the visit as a historic occasion. “With greater economic prosperity comes stronger security,” he said. The UAE, the US and Israel “share a similar outlook regarding threats and opportunities in the region,” Mnuchin said.
Officials signed an agreement allowing their citizens visa-free travel between the two countries, a first in the Arab world. Israel has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, but visas are required for travel.
Israel and the UAE also signed accords on investment protection and science and technology, and a civil aviation deal authorizing 28 flights a week between the two countries.
Al-Tayer said the deals signed on Tuesday offered “great opportunities to achieve prosperity for both our economies, and our people.”
A US delegate at the meeting, Adam Boehler, head of the International Development Finance Corporation, said the three countries would set up a fund, initially projected to raise $3 billion, to encourage private-sector investment and regional cooperation.
Last month, the UAE and Bahrain became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to normalize relations and establish formal ties with Israel. The “Abraham Accords” were brokered by US President Donald Trump ahead of the next month’s presidential election, and signed during a ceremony at the White House.