One million Israelis have visited the United Arab Emirates since the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020.
Speaking to Jewish News in Jerusalem about the social and economic benefits of the historic normalisation treaty between the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco and Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat said: “Almost one-in-10 Israelis has visited the UAE since the end of 2020.”
There are currently more than 200 weekly flights between the counties, with 88 from Ben Gurion to Dubai and 22 to Abu Dhabi, operated by Emirates, flydubai and EL AL.
Haiat, who is also head of the National Public Diplomacy Directorate at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “Part of the UAE’s popularity is due to the absence of antisemitism on the scale we have witnessed in other Arab states. It is one of the few countries in the Middle East that had no historical Jewish presence. The locals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi don’t harbour entrenched feelings of hostility towards Jews. They don’t see Israel as their enemy.”
Asked if the Saudis could be poised to become the next Arab state to sign the accords, Haiat said: “Any agreement with the Saudis will probably be separate to the Abraham Accords and much bigger in terms of importance. That agreement is not a question of if but when.
“We can see changes already in words the Saudi leadership is using to its own people when it comes to Israel. In the past, whenever Israel was raised the Palestinian issue was also raised, but that isn’t such an obstacle now. Israel is seen by the Saudis as a future partner. A peace agreement between our two states – with a third county that borders Israel – would change the entire region and inspire even more Arab and Muslim counties to follow.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen are reported to be in talks to expand the Abraham Accords to include Indonesia, Niger, Mauritania and Somalia.
Haiat was speaking to a group of British journalists in a delegation to Israel organised by the ELNET European Leadership Network.
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