Talks to normalise relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates launch this week with a focus on economic issues, with thornier defense matters pushed off as controversy churns around the Gulf Nation’s bid to buy the US’s top warplane.
Israel’s Finance Ministry sees potential for annual bilateral trade starting at $2 billion and building up to $6.5 billion once cooperation matures, according to deputy chief economist Lev Drucker. This week’s trip will centre on promoting cooperation in fields like tourism, finance, trade and health, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The UAE Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
Just three weeks ago such a meeting would have been unheard of. But on August 13, the countries announced their plan to normalise ties, a first between Israel and a Gulf Arab nation, and only the third such arrangement between the Jewish state and an Arab one. Making this week’s two-day gathering even more eventful is that on Monday, the delegation of Israelis and Americans are flying from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, over Saudi Arabia — a first commercial flight of its kind for an Israeli airline.
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