A flight from the United Arab Emirates carrying officials from the Gulf state has just landed in Israel at Ben-Gurion Airport for their nation's first official state visit to the Jewish state.
Israelis, Americans and Emirati officials were on board having left Abu Dhabi earlier this morning. The delegation was greeted on the tarmac by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Today we are making history. We are making history in a way that will stand for generations," he said at the welcoming ceremony. "This is the first official visit, this is the signing of the historic practical agreements of cooperation" based on the Abraham Accords signed in at the White House on Sept. 15, 2020.
Netanyahu said four agreements would be be signed today that will make "a tangible difference for our peoples" including economic, science and technology, civil aviation and visa exemptions. This will be the first Arab nation for which Israel will not require a visa for tourists.
"The future belongs to those who innovate. Israel and the United Arab Emirates are innovation nations," Netanyahu continued. "We have done great things separately but we can do amazing things together."
The benefits for both countries will be enormous, allowing for easier and quicker trade routes which will lead to lower consumer costs. All of this, Netanyahu said, is proof that "friendly, peaceful, normal relations" should spread throughout the Middle East.
"Ultimately Jews and Arabs are the descendants of one common ancestor - Avraham," Netanyahu used the Hebrew pronunciation. "It is in his spirit we hope to foster peace … and mutual respect."
UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al Tayer led his nation's delegation. He said the UAE is committed to the free travel and trade between the two countries in order "to achieve prosperity for both our economies and our people."
Also at the ceremony, an American CEO announced a $3 billion investment fund for projects that “promote regional economic cooperation and prosperity in the Middle East and beyond” and will include a development office in Israel.
CEO of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation Adam Boehler said the Abraham Fund "will enable its members to launch people-focused investments, providing opportunity and hope for the region and its youth by enabling them to build a future that serves them and their communities.”
“The Abraham Fund will tackle challenges facing the region and increase economic opportunity for everyone,” he said.
The UAE delegation met with Israeli and American officials - including Avi Berkowitz, the U.S. administration’s envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process - for talks and to sign agreements. This visit was supposed to last only five hours and the delegation will remain in the Tel Aviv area due to COVID restrictions.
"This morning UAE prepares to send its first official delegation to Israel, led by HE Obaid Al Tayer and HE Abdulla Bin Touq, and accompanied by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin," Hend Al Otaiba, director of strategic communications at the Emirati Foreign Ministry, tweeted this morning.
“This is an historical moment for UAE country and Israel, and we are looking forward to salaam [peace] in the future for our region,” Captain Naeem Alameri greeted passengers aboard Flight EY8014 from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv.
Yesterday, the first commercial passenger flight from the UAE to Israel landed in Tel Aviv and later returned to Abu Dhabi with members of an Israeli travel and tourism delegation.
Click below to watch the remarks and signing at the trilateral summit.