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Israel officially receives first ever UAE ambassador

Israel’s president on Monday formally received the first-ever ambassador from the United Arab Emirates, following last year’s historic agreement between the countries to normalise ties.

UAE envoy Mohamed Al Khaja, who arrived in Israel earlier Monday, delivered his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at a ceremony in Jerusalem.

The UAE was the first country to agree to establish full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state under the Abraham Accords, a pact brokered by former US president Donald Trump.

The agreement made the UAE only the third majority Arab country to form official ties with Israel, following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan have subsequently joined the Abraham Accords.

The agreements broke with longstanding Arab consensus that there should be no normalisation with Israel until it reaches a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.

Earlier Monday, Khaja met Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in Jerusalem, who wished him “success” in his “historic mission”.

Noting the historic nature of his appointment, Khaja said he was “very proud and honoured to be the first Emirati ambassador to the State of Israel”.

“My mission here is to foster and develop this relationship,” he added.

“We hope this will bring peace and prosperity to the people of the Middle East.”

Israel opened its UAE embassy in January, with veteran diplomat Eitan Naeh heading the Abu Dhabi mission.

Israel and the UAE have already signed treaties on direct flights and visa-free travel, along with accords on investment protection, science and technology.

On Tuesday, Khaja was scheduled to visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial and education centre.