Abraham Accords opened door for a better future, Israeli Member of Parliament says

The parliamentarian has also applauded the alliance for promoting trade and tourism between the two nations



by

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Mon 23 Jan 2023, 1:34 PM

Last updated: Mon 23 Jan 2023, 4:26 PM

The signing of the Abraham Accords between UAE and Israel has completely changed the Middle East and opened a door for a better future in the region, said an Israeli Member of Parliament.

In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, Dan Illouz is a newly elected Member of Knesset (MK) or Parliament said over the course of two years since the signing of the Abraham Accords on September 15, 2020, the relations between Israel and the UAE has grown rapidly, achieving several landmarks.

“We’ve had over 25 bilateral agreements signed between the countries in various fields. We’ve had several state visits – three times by the Israeli President and twice by Israeli Prime Ministers and we are expecting a visit by the current Prime Minister Netanyahu, which will further deepen the ties. We’ve also had over 20 Israeli ministers visiting the UAE since the Abraham Accords were signed,” he said.

The UAE became the first Arab country to normalise relations with Israel since Jordan in 1994. The official Israeli embassy in the UAE was opened in June 2021, while the UAE opened it embassy in Tel Aviv on July 14.

Illouz, 36, said another strong element of UAE-Israel partnership is the cooperation on the regional level, which has steadily grown over the last two years. “Just last week the UAE hosted the working groups of the “Negev Forum”, which brings together officials from the UAE, the US, Israel and other countries in the region,” he said.

“Such cooperation is a win-win situation, in which all of work together for a brighter, safer future for all parties involved. I also plan to chair the Knesset Caucus supporting the Abraham Accords in order to broaden the inter-parliamentary cooperation between nations of this region. When it comes to the Abraham Accords, there is no coalition or opposition in Israel – we are all united and committed to strengthening and expanding the agreements.”

Abraham Accords helped promote trade and tourism between UAE and Israel

The parliamentarian has also applauded the Abraham Accords for promoting trade and tourism between the two nations.

“If we look back two years ago, when there was almost no trade and no tourism possible, it is almost unbelievable to witness how much we have progressed. I think this signals the magnitude of the potential that exists in the relations between our countries and I am certain we will continue to see a steady increase not only in trade and tourism but also in other sectors,” said Illouz. “I think it can also serve as a model for other nations in our region, as for the existing potential for cooperation and prosperity when promoting peace with Israel.”

He noted that in 2022, there has been a massive increase in bilateral trade – $2.35 billion in the first 11 months of the year – and the trajectory is upwards. We also have a Free Trade Agreement between our countries which will be ratified and come into effects in the near future.

Currently, there are dozens of registered Israeli companies in the UAE and many other businesses working in the country with local distributers and partners.

Half-a-million Israelis visited UAE in two years

Illouz noted that since the signing of the Abraham Accords over half-a-million Israelis have visited the UAE. “I would like to take this opportunity and thank the local authorities for doing everything in their power to accommodate the influx of Israeli and Jewish tourists in the country. This is a sign of tolerance and openness which is a characteristic of the UAE,” he said.

“We would like to see more Emirati tourists visit Israel and enjoy the wealth of attractions it has to offer them in the Holy Land. Israel has a unique blend of historic and religious significance alongside a young, dynamic and innovative vibe. I think the Emirati tourists will not be disappointed and it will also serve the purpose of strengthening the people to people ties.”

Relations between Israel and Palestine

On whether the Abraham Accords will play a major role in increasing peace between Israel and Palestine relations, Illouz said he believes that the Abraham Accords have created a paradigm shift and “I remain hopeful that one day the Palestinians will change course and choose peace over hatred.”

The parliamentarian said the Abraham Accords have proven that Jews and Arabs are not destined to be enemies and can forge warm and prosperous relations. “In that vein, I hope to see additional countries join the Abraham Accords and enjoy the benefits of peace,” he said.

Illouz was on his first official visit as a MK to Abu Dhabi, in order to participate at the International Renewable Energy Agency summit, which gathered legislators from all around the world to tackle the issue of climate change.

On the sides of the summit, Illouz met with Emirati legislators and expressed his desire to deepen the strong ties between the two countries.

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