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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 4 March 2021

Benjamin Netanyahu applauds economic relationships with UAE after Abraham Accord

Peace accord changed the region in a positive way, Israel’s Prime Minister told Davos forum

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Abraham Accord marked a “warm” peace with the UAE that had led to a surge in economic opportunities, as diplomats made the first moves towards restarting the stalled ­Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Addressing the World Economic Forum’s Davos 2021 on Wednesday, he said agreements on normalisation of relations with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco would change the region in a positive way.

“Everyone in Israel is supremely delighted with the peace that we have,” Mr Netanyahu said.

“It’s going to be great because the Emirates have proved to be – as I’ve always seen them – tremendously entrepreneurial, and they’re guided by a visionary leader [who] understands the power of innovation and the power to dare, to dream,” the veteran Israeli leader said in his virtual address.

Mr Netanyahu described a “new kind of peace that is changing relations between Israelis and Arabs, and I have to tell you, Arabs and Jews in Israel too. I means it’s unbelievable what this is doing.”

As the prime minister was speaking, officials in New York were briefed on new efforts to revive the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians by inviting Arab ministers to talks on the decades-old conflict with the UN, US and European Union in the coming months.

Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy told reporters that Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain could join the Quartet format that has seen the US, EU, Russia and the UN attempt to broker agreements. The Arab representatives could be invited to a “Quartet plus” ministerial-level video conference in the late spring or early summer.

Mr Polyanskiy described an opportunity for renewed diplomacy after “encouraging initial signals” from US President Joe Biden, who has quickly distanced himself from the previous Trump administration’s deal-making, which favoured Israel and was rejected by Palestinians.

“Now we see some encouraging signals from the new administration that would be more devoted to collective efforts and formats

At the Davos meeting, the Israeli leader also spoke about Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccination drive that has seen Israel and the UAE emerge as global leaders. Israel has inoculate more 30 per cent of its population of nine million with at least a first dose.

The UAE has distributed 27.07 doses per 100 people of its population – or 2.67 million.

"We're in an arms race, except it's not an arms race, it's a race between vaccination and [virus] mutations?," Mr Netanyahu said.

He told Davos that Israel had purchased lots of vaccines fast and hadn’t quibbled about the cost.

But he added that the most pressing issue at the moment is what level of protection the vaccine would give to individuals and how successful it would be in preventing infection when the economy opened up.

"There are more mutations and there will be more mutations in the future. It means we have to race as fast as we can to vaccinate first the risk groups in the population and then everyone else in order to give immunity, and then probably expect the companies that are producing the vaccines at this point to modify their vaccines to accommodate mutations that they don’t cover now as they develop, and then we’ll have to purchase them.

“That's going to be our life for the coming years. I don’t think that we’re going to evade that, but we can overcome it."

Updated: January 28, 2021 06:29 PM

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