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Israel’s Lapid begins ‘historic’ UAE trip

In March, a planned official visit by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was canceled.

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On Tuesday, Israel’s top diplomat, Yair Lapid, conducted the first-ever official trip by an Israeli minister to the United Arab Emirates, after the two nations softened their ties in September.

Lapid tweeted a picture from inside a plane, with the caption: “Taking off for a historic visit to the UAE.”

Israeli ministers have already visited the Gulf nation, but Lapid is the most senior Israeli to make the trip, and the first to travel on an official trip.

Since the normalization agreement with the UAE was mediated by former US President Donald Trump’s administration, Israel has signed a number of deals with the UAE, ranging from tourism to aviation and financial services.

During his visit, Lapid has participated in the inauguration of the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi, as well as the Consulate General of Israel in Dubai.

“The Israeli delegation will land late in the morning in Abu Dhabi and will be received by the minister of economic affairs at the foreign ministry,” the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

In March, a planned official visit by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was stopped due to a “dispute” with Jordan over the use of its airspace, according to Israeli officials.

Netanyahu, replaced as prime minister by the far-right politician Naftali Bennett in a coalition government cobbled together by Lapid, had already postponed a February visit to the UAE and Bahrain over travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The normalization accords between Israel and the UAE, as well as Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan, have been condemned by the Palestinians as they contradict with years of Arab League policies, which have held that there should be no relations with Israel until it makes peace with the Palestinians.

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