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Israeli minister's landmark visit to UAE signals deepening ties

The arrival of Israel's Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday is a landmark moment for his country and the Arab world.

Mr Lapid is the first Israeli minister to pay an official visit to the Gulf state since Israel, the UAE and Bahrain signed a historic deal to normalise ties nine months ago.

During the two-day trip, Mr. Lapid will meet his Emirati counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and inaugurate the Israeli embassy and consulate office in Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively.

The visit is important not only for its symbolic significance but also because it will be the first official engagement between the two sides since the Israel-Gaza conflict in May. At least 256 people were killed in Gaza, according to the UN, and 13 people were killed in Israel during the hostilities.

The 11-day conflict was the first test for the newly forged relationship - especially given that the UAE leadership had billed the normalisation deal as an opportunity to halt Israel's plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, which were vehemently opposed by the Palestinians.

In the lead-up to the fighting the UAE had condemned the potential eviction by Israel of Palestinians from homes contested by Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem - a focal point for rising Israel-Palestinian tensions - and had urged Israel to defuse the situation.


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