UAE opens Israel embassy in Tel Aviv

The inauguration ceremony was attended by UAE ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja and Israeli President Isaac Herzog

The UAE has opened an embassy in Tel Aviv, months after becoming the first Arab nation in decades to normalise diplomatic relations with Israel.

The embassy is at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange building.

“This embassy will serve not just as a home for diplomats but a base for our task to continue to build on our new partnership,” said the UAE's ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Al Khaja, after raising the Emirati flag.

“To seek dialogue, not disputes, to build a new paradigm of peace and to provide a model for a new collaborative approach to conflict resolution in the Middle East."

The formal opening of the mission comes after US-brokered normalisation agreements, known as the Abraham Accords, were signed by the UAE, Bahrain and Israel in Washington last September.

It was swiftly followed by Morocco and Sudan agreeing to normalise relations with Israel.

Addressing dignitaries in Tel Aviv, Israeli President Isaac Herzog thanked the Emirati leadership for its “courageous decision” to normalise ties with Israel.

“Our peace agreement will save lives, will help humanity, will help the region, will develop food, water and medicine for the benefit of humankind,” he said.

Leaders of the UAE-Israel Business Council also spoke glowingly of the opportunities for bilateral trade.

Dorian Barak, co-founder of the council, said the embassy would play a vital role in regulating trade relations in line with international best practice.

"Embassies are critical to bilateral trade as they assist with document authentication, regulatory submissions and other administrative matters that underpin international trade," he said.

Historic milestone

The UAE last year became the first Arab country to normalise relations with Israel since Jordan in 1994 before it was followed by Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

Regional normalisation before a lasting peace settlement between Israel and Palestinians as laid out by the Arab Peace Initiative in 2000 has been a highly contentious issue and the Palestinian leadership criticised the move.

In recent months the UAE and Israel have started to collaborate in areas such as health, technology and travel.

On Tuesday, the UAE’s Minister of State for Food Security, Mariam Al Mheiri, signed an agreement to enhance co-operation in food production, supply chains and research during a visit to Israel.

She also attended the inauguration of the embassy in Tel Aviv, which came after Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid last month opened his country’s embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate in Dubai.

Updated: July 15th 2021, 6:19 AM