British Abraham Accords delegation embarks on first visit to UAE

Former defence secretary Liam Fox leads senior MPs with hopes more countries will normalise relations with Israel

From left, Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former US president Donald Trump and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, sign the Abraham Accords at the White House in 2020. AFP
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A delegation from the UK Parliament has arrived in the UAE to view the progress that has been made since the signing of the Abraham Accords and to encourage other nations to sign on to the agreement.

Led by the former defence secretary Liam Fox, the first overseas trip by the UK Abraham Accords Group will meet Emirati leaders as part of greater engagement to establish stronger links to the agreement with Israel.

A highlight of the five-day trip will be a meeting in Dubai with members of the Jewish community and talks with youth groups to raise awareness about the accords.

The Abraham Accords were signed in 2020, with the UAE and Bahrain being the first Gulf states to enter into formal diplomatic ties with Israel. The US brokered the deal.

Since then, improved relations between the countries has led to the opening of embassies as well as significant economic investment in areas such as the diamond and tech industries.

The first branch of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office opened in Israel last year and a number of kosher restaurants have appeared in the UAE for Jewish customers.

Other Arab countries have followed the UAE, with Sudan, Morocco and Oman all having normalised relations with Israel, and there is an expectation that even more nations could follow this year, with some in the Gulf as well as Indonesia and the Maldives.

“The Abraham Accords were a bold and visionary step towards peace in the Middle East,” Mr Fox said after landing in the UAE on Sunday. “Our group is here to express support for the accords, as well as to see for ourselves the spirit of coexistence that is being fostered in the UAE between religions, cultures and nations.”

The senior MP, who previously served as Britain’s international trade secretary, said the UK could play “an important role in expanding the accords”.

“Our group can contribute to this aim and I look forward to discussing this matter further with Emirati officials during our visit,” he said.

Mr Fox was invited by ambassadors from the UAE, Bahrain, and Israel to lead the UK Abraham Accords Group, the purpose of which is to provide a UK forum to promote the accords and peace across the region.

Mansoor Abulhoul, the UAE's ambassador to the UK, said the visit, which includes politicians from all three major British political parties, represented “a genuine show of support for the Abraham Accords” by Parliament.

“I am delighted that such a distinguished group of parliamentarians has been able to visit the UAE to see for themselves how the accords continue to bring peace and prosperity to the region.

“We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Dr Fox for spearheading this pioneering initiative.”

The other MPs include Mark Garnier, vice chairman of the International Trade Select Committee; Stephen Crabb, parliamentary chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel; Steve McCabe, chairman of Labour Friends of Israel; and Dr Lisa Cameron of the Scottish National Party.

The British delegation will meet UAE government ministers as well as business leaders and will also visit Expo 2020 Dubai, where they are expected to visit the pavilions of all signatories to the Abraham Accords.

Updated: January 09, 2022, 1:39 AM