UAE and Israel set for signing of historic Abraham Accord in Washington

Agreement to normalise ties opens avenues for co-operation across a range of sectors

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, is leading the UAE delegation to the US for the peace accord ceremony.  Courtesy Dubai Media Office
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The UAE is set to sign the historic Abraham Accord with Israel at a ceremony in Washington on Tuesday, weeks after agreeing to normalise relations in the first such agreement between an Arab country and Israel in over a quarter of a century. As part of the agreement, Israel agreed to the suspension of its plans to annex occupied Palestinian territories.

The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, arrived in Washington on Sunday night to sign the Abraham Accord to strengthen ties between the Emirates and Israel.

Sheikh Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were invited by US President Donald Trump to take part in the signing ceremony at the White House on Tuesday.

The accord sends a powerful signal the UAE has taken back control of its decision-making and assessed its interests in a way that surprised both partners and enemies, Omar Ghobash, UAE Assistant Minister for Cultural Affairs and Public Diplomacy, said in an online forum on the eve of the ceremony.

Mr Ghobash said the UAE had in the past outsourced its relationship with Israel, but this had changed. "We are a state that respects its own sovereignty," he told Mina Al-Oraibi, Editor-in-Chief of The National.

Mr Ghobash is part of a high-level delegation accompanying Sheikh Abdullah for the historic ceremony.

Among them are Abdulla Al Marri, the Minister of Economy; Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology; Obaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs; and Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation.

Other notables include Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the US and Minister; Lana Nusseibeh, UAE Permanent Representative to the UN; and Ali Al Neyadi, Commissioner of Customs and Chairman of the Federal Customs Authority.

Bahrain has also agreed to normalise ties with Israel, in a decision announced earlier this month, and will sign its own peace accord.

Bahrain and the UAE have not fought wars with the Israel, unlike Egypt and Jordan which signed peace treaties with Israel in 1979 and 1994, respectively.

"I travel to achieve peace in exchange for peace and we reached two peace agreements in just one month," Mr Netanyahu said on Twitter as he began his journey to Washington on Sunday evening.

"This is a new era. These agreements will unite diplomatic peace with economic peace, and they will pump billions into our economy through investments, co-operation and joint ventures."

The US announced the Abraham Accord between the UAE and Israel in mid-August.

The agreement came in a joint call between Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Mr Trump and Mr Netanyahu.

The first commercial flight between the UAE and Israel took place last month as the two countries looked to open up their tourism sectors.

On that flight was a high-level US-Israeli delegation led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.