Top Israeli officials, led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, welcomed senior US and United Arab Emirate officials on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport Tuesday afternoon.
A delegation of US and UAE officials traveled to Israel for a series of trilateral and bilateral meetings, ahead of the signing of a series of agreements establishing ties between the two countries and implementing the Abraham Accords signed at the White House last month.
The UAE delegates were led by by the UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs, Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, and UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al Mari.
The American team included Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin, special White House envoy Avi Berkowitz, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
“My staff wrote me some lines. They started by saying: ‘Today, we are literally witnessing history in the making’,” said Netanyahu at a welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport.
“And I said, ‘Absolutely not! Today we are making history. We are making history in a way that will stand for generations.’”
“This is the first-ever official visit from the United Arab Emirates to Israel. This is the first time since the signing of the historic agreements in the White House that the Government of Israel and the UAE will be signing concrete, practical agreements of cooperation.”
“We will sign four agreements which will make tangible differences for our peoples.”
“The first is to provide for the protection of investments, to create an economic environment that will benefit all of our people, all of our entrepreneurs.”
“The second is an agreement of cooperation in science and technology.”
“Third, we’re facilitating civil aviation. We’re connecting Israel and the UAE through multiple, direct flights. Israelis will be able to go to many destinations beyond that, to the east, in Asia.”
“And fourth, we’re exempting our nationals from visas.”
Netanyahu went on to promise that the deal with the UAE would lower the cost of living for Israelis by opening up trade with the UAE.
US Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin hailed the visit as “historic”, and said the economic ties forged by the Abraham Accords would help to both enrich and stabilize the Middle East.
“This morning I flew on the first commercial flight from the UAE to Israel. What a historic occasion.”
“The Abraham Accords established direct economic ties between two of the Middle East’s most advanced and thriving economies. These ties lay a tremendous foundation for economic growth, opportunity, innovation, and prosperity.”