Israel officially opens embassy in the UAE – and the UAE in Tel Aviv

An Israeli man presents his passport for control upon arrival from Tel Aviv to Dubai, UAE (Karim Sahib - AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  January 25, 2021

 Israel officially opened its embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Israel yesterday officially opened its embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), its Foreign Ministry announced.

The controversial move comes after the UAE and Israel agreed to establish full diplomatic, cultural and commercial relations following the signing of the Abraham Accords on 15 September at the White House.

Since then BahrainSudan and Morocco have all agreed to establish ties with Israel in deals brokered by the administration of former US President Donald Trump.

The Palestinians condemned the agreements as a “stab in the back”.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry claimed the new embassy “will advance the range of relations between the countries in all areas and expand ties with the Emirati government, economic bodies and the private sector, academia, media and more.”

Israel’s government regards Jerusalem as its capital, although that is not recognised by most of the international community. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv.

The Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi will be operating from “temporary offices” until locating a permanent facility, the statement said.

The mission will “expand the ties with the Emirati government, financial bodies and the private sector, universities, the media and more,” it added.

Israel and the UAE have already signed treaties on direct flights and visa-free travel, along with accords on investment protection, science and technology.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi welcomed the move, saying the embassy would “enable the expansion of bilateral relations between Israel and the Emirates for a swift and maximal implementation of the potential in these ties.”

Ashkenazi also thanked the UAE “heir to the throne, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, and my colleague and friend, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, for their leadership and hospitality towards our representatives.”

UAE approves opening of embassy in Tel Aviv

Israel also announced the opening of an embassy in Abu Dhabi just over four months after signing a normalisation deal.

The UAE has approved the establishment of its first embassy in Israel in the city of Tel Aviv four months after signing a normalisation deal with the country.

“The government approves the creation of the embassy of the United Arab Emirates to Tel Aviv, in the state of Israel,” it announced on Twitter on Sunday.

The UAE, along with Bahrain, signed a US-brokered deal in September to normalise relations.

The agreements, known as the “Abraham Accords”, shattered a longstanding Arab consensus that there should be no normalisation with Israel until it reaches a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.

The Palestinians condemned the agreements as a “stab in the back”.

On Sunday, Israel also announced the opening of an embassy in Abu Dhabi

“Today the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi has officially been opened, with the arrival of the mission head Eitan Naeh,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The Israeli embassy in the United Arab Emirates will advance relations between the countries on all levels.”

Earlier this month, Sudan also signed the Abraham Accords, becoming the third Arab country to do so and the fourth to normalise diplomatic relations with Israel in as many months.

Morocco also normalised ties with Israel in December, in a diplomatic quid pro quo that saw Washington back Moroccan rule over the disputed Western Sahara region.

Until last year, only Egypt, in 1979, and Jordan, in 1994, had normalised ties with Israel.

The UAE is not following the US, however, in establishing its embassy in Jerusalem, a move which gives legitimacy to Israeli claims of full sovereignty over the city.

Former President Donald Trump opened the new US embassy in Jerusalem in May 2018, recognising the city as the capital of Israel. Palestinians have long claimed East Jerusalem, which was conquered by Israel in 1967, as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Despite opposing the move when it happened, last week new President Joe Biden said he would not be moving the embassy out of the city.