Yair Lapid to become first senior Israeli minister on official UAE trip

Yair Lapid to become first senior Israeli minister on official UAE trip
Yair Lapid is to be hosted by his UAE counterpart, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
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Lapid's official UAE trip will take place next week [EMMANUEL DUNAND/POOL/AFP/Getty]

Israel's Yair Lapid is to become the nation's first senior minister to travel officially to the UAE.

The two-day trip next week was announced by the Israeli foreign ministry in a press release on Monday.

Lapid is to be hosted by his Emirati counterpart, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, during his visit.

He is also to "inaugurate" the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Dubai-based consulate general.

The press release stressed that the ties between Israel and the UAE are "of great importance".

It continued, adding that "the fruits of [these] will be enjoyed not only by the citizens of the two countries but by the entire Middle East".

Diplomatic correspondent for Israel's Walla news website Barak Ravid tweeted that Lapid's visit would be the first overseas visit of his tenure as FM.

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Meanwhile, Avi Berkowitz, who worked on Donald Trump's normalisation project took to the social network to say: "This is great news - exciting to see the Abraham Accords continue to thrive".

Next to his message, Berkowitz attached the flags of the US, Israel, and the UAE.

In an article run by Walla, Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies (Mitvim) director Nimrod Goren said Lapid's trip to the UAE will be the first in a series of top-level ministerial visits to Gulf states.

This will be aimed at solidifying Israel's normalised ties with those nations.

Israeli ministers have previously visited the UAE, but Lapid is the most senior Israeli to make the trip. 

In October 2018, Miri Regev, then Israel's minister of culture and sports, traveled with the national judo team to Abu Dhabi, but it was not an official visit.

Another Israeli minister, Ayoub Kara, then minister of communications, spoke in October 2018 at an international conference on telecommunications in Dubai.

Israel-UAE-Bahrain normalisation deal
Click here to enlarge image (August 2020)

In March, a planned official prime ministerial visit to the UAE by then-premier Benjamin Netanyahu was cancelled due to a "dispute" with Jordan over the use of its airspace, according to Israeli officials.

In addition to serving as FM, Lapid is Israel's alternate premier.

This means that, after two years of Naftali Bennett serving as the country's prime minister, Lapid will take the helm.

Bennett, on the far right of Israeli politics, is known for making remarks such as "I've already killed a lot of Arabs in my life - and there is no problem with that".