The United Arab Emirates became the first Gulf country to open an embassy in Israel on Wednesday. It is a new step in the rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world.
Emirati diplomats moved to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Wednesday. Ambassador Mohammed Al-Khaja raised his country’s flag during a ceremony. “Seeing the UAE flag flying with great pride in Tel Aviv seemed like a distant dream a year ago,” said Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
The Israelis opened their embassy in the UAE in late June, after establishing diplomatic relations with the UAE last year. This breakthrough came through the mediation of the United States during the era of President Donald Trump at the time. Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco followed suit.
Ambassador Khaja stressed that trade and investment are essential elements in the rapprochement. “We’ve already signed important agreements, including on the economy, air traffic, technology and culture.” According to Israel, since normalization, bilateral trade has risen to $675 million (570 million euros).
The Palestinian cause
The fact that the UAE and Israel are embracing each other is bad for the Palestinians. Arab states have long linked the normalization of relations with Israel with the establishment of a Palestinian state. But the Palestinian issue no longer appears to be a priority. Last year Hamas spoke of a “free reward for the Israeli occupation.”
The reason for the rapprochement is mainly due to Iran’s growing influence in the region, from Yemen to Iraq and Syria to Lebanon. The distaste for the Shiite regime in Tehran demonstrated an excellent relationship between Israel and the Sunni states of the Middle East. And for that, some ancient principles had to fall.
The UAE denies that it has abandoned the Palestinians. They pointed out that reconciliation with Israel would eventually lead to a solution to the Palestinian issue. The UAE has already invested a lot in Israel, but in the long run it also wants to become active in the occupied Palestinian territories.