The Abraham Accords are consolidated. Bahrain officially appoints the Gulf kingdom's first ambassador to Israel

Yair Lapid inaugurates Israel's embassy in the United Arab Emirates

WAM/AFP - UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan (R) shaking hands with Israeli top diplomat Yair Lapid in Abu Dhabi

Yair Lapid has once again made history. The Israeli Foreign Minister becomes the first senior diplomat from the Hebrew country to visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a meeting that Lapid himself has described as a "historic moment". Yair Lapid, who managed to lead a coalition that has ended Benjamin Netanyahu's 12 years of uninterrupted leadership, has achieved another major milestone that former Prime Minister Netanyahu was unable to meet, becoming the first senior Israeli official to visit the UAE.

Israel's new government embraces the legacy of the previous Netanyahu administration that managed, thanks to the auspices of the United States and its former President Donald Trump, to normalise relations with four Arab states including: United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. Despite the many differences between Lapid and Netanyahu, the Israeli Foreign Minister, during his official visit to the Gulf country, has recognised the work of the former Israeli prime minister, whom he referred to as "the architect of the Abraham Accords, who worked tirelessly to bring them to fruition".

The visit to the UAE has been charged with symbolism, as it comes at a key moment in relations between the different Arab countries and Israel following the clashes that took place last May between the Hebrew country and Hamas, the de facto government in the Gaza Strip. During the escalation of violence, the UAE condemned Israel for the expulsion of Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and the police crackdown around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, but the Gulf state stood aside during the 11-day clash between Israel and Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of 256 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

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The Abraham Accords were a revolution in the Arab world as they ended the historic consensus that any normalisation agreement with Israel should involve the establishment of two states with East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, as well as a return to the 1967 borders. However, that consensus was shattered last September when the United Arab Emirates, along with Bahrain and Sudan, embraced former US President Donald Trump's proposal to normalise relations with the Hebrew country while completely ignoring the Palestinian question.

Since the two countries signed the normalisation agreement at the White House, Israel and the UAE have signed extensive trade and cooperation agreements, with bilateral trade estimated to have exceeded $354 million. In addition, more than 200,000 Israeli tourists have travelled to the UAE, according to the Israeli foreign ministry. During his first official visit to the UAE, Yair Lapid stressed the new Israeli government's intention to continue working and strengthening the Abraham Accords.


"Israel wants peace with its neighbours with all its neighbours," Lapid said in a speech at the inauguration of the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi. "We are not going anywhere. The Middle East is our home. We are here to stay, and we call on all countries in the region to recognise that and come and talk to us." The Foreign Minister was received in Abu Dhabi by Emirati Minister of State Ahmed al-Sayegh, and later held the opening ceremony of the Israeli embassy in the Gulf kingdom. Although the embassy has been in operation for months, the official opening had not yet taken place, and Yair Lapid, accompanied by Emirati Minister of Culture and Youth Nora al-Qaabi and UAE Rabbi Levi Duchman, represented the formalisation of relations between the two countries by cutting a blue ribbon.

During his two-day official visit to the UAE, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also travelled to Dubai, where he officially opened Israel's consulate in the city, calling it a centre of dialogue and cooperation. "What we are inaugurating today is not only a consulate, but also the centre of our cooperation," Lapid said. "This place symbolises our ability to think together, to develop together, to change the world together".

During his stay in Dubai, Lapid will also visit Israel's pavilion at the Expo 2020 trade fair in Dubai. This world fair is scheduled to open its doors in October 2021. The original opening, scheduled for October 2020, was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Israel's presence at the expo had been planned before the normalisation agreement was finalised, according to Haaretz newspaper.

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The Abraham Accords are strengthened

The visit of Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is a historic milestone, especially given the recent escalation of tension between Hamas and Israel, as well as the fierce disputes in the heart of Jerusalem. Lapid has wasted no time in announcing his visit to the United Arab Emirates to reinforce the Abraham Accords at such a crucial time.

Bahrain, another of the Arab states that agreed to normalise relations with the Jewish state last September, has also been in the spotlight in recent days as a result of the meeting between Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his Bahraini counterpart, Abdullatif al-Zayani, last Sunday in Rome. Following the meeting, Lapid explained that the two discussed 'the challenges facing the Middle East, first and foremost Iran', a regional enemy of both Israel and Bahrain. 

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Following this meeting in Rome during the meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh, Bahrain has announced that Bahraini monarch Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa has officially appointed the Gulf kingdom's first ambassador to Israel. According to official Bahraini media, Khaled Yousef al-Khalahmah will be Bahrain's envoy to Israel. This is a further step in the relations between the Gulf state and the Jewish state, as Bahrain has not yet established an embassy in Israel, while the Jewish state has an operational embassy in Manama.