Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke with his Emirati counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the two agreed to meet soon and establish a direct communication channel, on Sunday as the two countries opened diplomatic ties, part of a deal brokered by the U.S. that required Israel to halt its contentious plan to annex West Bank land sought by the Palestinians for a future state.
Telephone service between the United Arab Emirates and Israel began working Sunday as part of the deal. Residents of the UAE also began having access to Israeli news sites on Sunday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meanwhile said the agreement would advance peace with the Arab world and with the Palestinians, adding that U.S. President Donald Trump's Mideast plan has not changed, including the part that called for the annexation of settlements in the West Bank.
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Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel issued a statement “congratulating the United Arab Emirates on removing the blocks.”
“Many economic opportunities will open now, and these trust-building steps are an important step toward advancing states’ interests,” Hendel said.
In the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, a recorded message in Arabic and English would typically play prior to Sunday saying calls to +972 numbers could not be connected. The advent of internet calling allowed people to get around the ban, though these too were often interrupted.
Some in Israel used Palestinian mobile phone numbers with +970 numbers, which those in the UAE could call.
The connection of phone service represents the first concrete sign of the deal between the Emiratis and Israelis.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced Thursday they were establishing full diplomatic relations in the U.S.-brokered accord.
The historic deal delivered a key foreign policy victory to Trump as he seeks re-election and reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.
Palestinians say it puts a just resolution of the Middle East conflict even farther out of reach by undermining an Arab consensus that recognition of Israel only come in return for concessions in peace talks. That removes a rare source of leverage for the Palestinians.
The agreement will make the UAE the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to have full, active diplomatic ties with Israel. The countries announced it in a joint statement, saying deals between Israel and the UAE were expected in the coming weeks in such areas as tourism, direct flights and embassies.
Early Sunday, the Emirates’ state-run WAM news agency announced a UAE company had signed an agreement with an Israeli company for research and study of the coronavirus pandemic.
The move has sparked anger among some who see it as a betrayal of longstanding efforts to establish an independent state of Palestinians. In Pakistan, hundreds of Islamists rallied Sunday to denounce the Emirati-Israeli deal. The Jamaat-e-Islami party chanted slogans against the United States and burned effigies of President Donald Trump. They also set ablaze American and Israeli flags.
The deal also has enraged Iran and Turkey, regional rivals to the UAE.
On Sunday, the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces called the UAE’s decision a “disaster.” Mohammad Hossein Bagheri urged Abu Dhabi to “revise” its position.
“If an incident happens in the Persian Gulf and violates the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran, even a tiny bit, and we see it from the UAE, we will not tolerate it,” Bagheri said.