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Israeli government approves normalization deal with U.A.E.

The Israeli government unanimously approved the country’s recently signed normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates on Monday ahead of a ratification vote by parliament.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement following his weekly cabinet meeting that he spoke over the weekend with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“We talked about co-operations that we are advancing — in investment, tourism, energy, technology and other fields,” Netanyahu told the cabinet, with Israeli and Emirati flags flanking the conference table. “We will also co-operate and are already co-operating in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.”

Sheikh Mohammed, the U.A.E.’s day-to-day ruler, separately tweeted confirmation of the call Monday, saying they discussed “prospects for peace and the need for stability, co-operation and development in the region.”

Netanyahu’s office said it was the first conversation between the two leaders since the Sept. 15 signing ceremony on the White House lawn he attended with the Emirates’ foreign minister. The Knesset is slated to vote on ratifying the deal on Thursday.

Neighbouring Gulf monarchy Bahrain also signed an agreement on Sept. 15 at the White House to normalize relations with Israel, making the U.A.E. and Bahrain the third and fourth Arab states to establish ties with Israel. Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with Israel in 1979 and 1994, respectively.

The so-called Abraham Accords brought long-clandestine ties between Israel and several Gulf states — forged in recent years over a shared concern over regional rival Iran — into the open. The weeks since have seen a flurry of business, banking and intergovernmental agreements between the U.A.E. and Israel, though moves toward normalization have been slower in Bahrain.

The normalization agreements have outraged the Palestinians, whose leaders have called the deals a betrayal of a longtime Arab stance that recognition of Israel would come only after Palestinians obtain an independent state of their own.

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