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Israel’s cabinet approves UAE pact as leaders plan meeting

Israel’s cabinet approves UAE pact as leaders plan meeting

No date or venue was given for the leaders’ meeting

The leaders of Israel and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to meet soon, the Israeli prime minister said on Monday, shortly before his cabinet approved an accord to normalise diplomatic relations with the Gulf Arab state.

Their meeting will be preceded by the visit of an Emirati delegation to Israel, according to a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

In a phone call over the weekend between Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, both invited the other to their respective countries, the statement said.

No date or venue was given for the leaders’ meeting.

The delegation will include the UAE finance and economy ministers and is expected to arrive in Israel next Tuesday, according to a reporter for Israel’s Wall News website. A visit planned for September 22 was scrapped as Israel imposed a nationwide lockdown.

A joint Israeli-US delegation traveled to the UAE in August.

The US-brokered pact with the UAE – Israel’s third with an Arab state – was signed at the White House last month but requires the approval of the Israeli cabinet and parliament.

Netanyahu also said his government was simultaneously working on completing a normalisation agreement with Bahrain.

The pacts are expected to unlock commercial opportunities, with Citigroup analysts on Monday forecasting up to $6.5bn in trade between Israel and Gulf Cooperation Council states, with associated investment elsewhere in the Middle East.

While Israeli officials have stressed they expect other nations to follow the UAE lead in normalising ties with the majority-Jewish state, the mood among many Arabs poses a significant barrier.

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