Israel, United Arab Emirates sign visa waiver agreement

The measure, unprecedented between an Arab country and the Hebrew state, was announced during a visit by an official Emirati delegation to Israeli territory, angering the Palestinians.

“Welcome to Israel”, writes in an enthusiastic headline, the Al-Arabiya channel, based in Dubai, reporting the arrival in the Hebrew State of the “first delegation of the United Arab Emirates”, accompanied by senior officials Americans including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and received Tuesday, October 20 by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv.

"A historic visit" marking "the new era which is dawning in the region", explains L’Orient-Le Jour, in Lebanon. “The two countries are expanding their cooperation after normalizing ties last month under a deal brokered by the United States, forged largely on the basis of shared fears over Iran,” may - read on Yediot Aharonot's site.

"We are writing history"

During this trilateral ceremony at Ben-Gurion airport - “the delegation's visit was limited to this area due to the precautions taken against the coronavirus” - Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed four agreements “concerning the promotion and investment protection, science and innovation, aviation and visa exemptions, ”Al-Arabiya said.

Mr. Netanyahu announced that the two countries had agreed to a mutual visa exemption. Speaking on the tarmac, the Israeli prime minister said:

    "Today we are making history. We are writing history in a way that will be remembered for generations. We will remember this day, a glorious day of peace."

The measure "will allow citizens of these two countries to visit the other without needing prior authorization," Haaretz reformulated. And "makes Emirati citizens the first in the Arab world not to need an Israeli entry permit," reports Abu Dhabi-based The National newspaper.

Anger of the Palestinians

These initiatives have aroused anger on the Palestinian side. In a speech in Ramallah on Tuesday Wassel Abou Youssef, a member of the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), blasted:

    "The bilateral agreements that have been announced today and the delegations that come and go, all of these provide the occupation with a force to escalate its aggression and crimes against the Palestinian people and increase their intransigence and arrogance."

“Double standards,” Palestinians also denounced on social media, “noting that they are not allowed to move freely in and to the occupied Palestinian territories,” Qatari channel Al-Jazeera reports.

“The Emirates stand out from the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, which conditions any normalization with the Hebrew state on the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” explains L'Orient. -The day.

“One of the key principles of the (normalization) agreement is Israel's assurance that it will suspend the annexation of Palestinian territory, including the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley. (…) The United Arab Emirates have constantly reaffirmed their commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state ”, assures The National, however.

“Shalom’ and welcome ”to Abu Dhabi

Israeli tourists could start visiting the Gulf Emirate in a few weeks, once all details are finalized, notes Israel Hayom. In a video message relayed by the newspaper, the director general of the tourism and marketing department at the Abu Dhabi tourism ministry, Ali Al Shaiba, already sent a welcome message to future visitors from the Hebrew state:

    "I would say 'Shalom' and welcome to your second home, Abu Dhabi."

An agreement allowing 28 commercial flights per week between countries was due to be signed on Monday, writes The National. On Monday, the UAE airline Etihad made its first commercial passenger flight to Israel, carrying members of a delegation of tourism and travel officials.

For its part, Dubai, the largest city in the Emirates, "is set to become kosher after the peace agreement with Israel," reports Gulf News. “Restaurants and caterers are rushing to prepare for the influx of Jewish visitors to the UAE.”

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