UAE to 'continue trade with Israel' despite deadly Gaza war, trade minister says
"We don't mix the economy and trade with politics," Thani al-Zeyoudi told reporters in Dubai.
In March, a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries came into effect, Israel’s first free trade agreement with an Arab state.
From New York to London, Sydney to Athens - thousands around the world have filled the streets in solidarity with Palestinians over the last few days as the escalation in violence between Hamas militants and Israeli forces continues ⬇ pic.twitter.com/aOYsH4pwgS— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) October 10, 2023
The UAE was the first Gulf country to normalise relations with Israel in 2020, following the controversial, US-brokered Abraham Accords, which saw Bahrain and Morocco also establish democratic ties with Tel Aviv.
The move was widely slammed by Palestinians and much of the Arab world, who said that such deals reward Israel as it continues to illegally occupy Palestinian territories and besiege the Gaza Strip, all while committing atrocities on Palestinian people.
Speaking on the sidelines of the signing of the latest trade deal, with Georgia, the minister said the UAE’s priority was to have market access across all regions, globally.
Since 2021, the UAE has initiated a raft of trade, investment and cooperation deals on its own as part of a wider strategy to boost economic growth and diversify its economy.
Zeyoudi added the UAE's position on recent developments in the region had been communicated by its foreign affairs ministry.
Following Hamas' unprecedented assault on Israel, the UAE expressed "deep concern" over the attacks in a statement that stressed the need "to stop the escalation and preserve the lives of civilians". Abu Dhabi also slammed Hamas' assault as a "serious and grave escalation".
Ebtesam al-Ketbi, President of Abu Dhabi-based think tank Emirates Policy Centre, said UAE-Israel relations are likely to "withstand the current round of conflict, just as they have done in the past," according to Reuters.
Since Saturday, Israel has launched its fiercest attack on the Gaza Strip in 75 years, killing at least 1,055 people in the heavily blockaded enclave home to 2.3 million people.
Hamas attacks on Israel have killed 1,200 Israelis, as the war enters its fifth day.
(Reuters and The New Arab Staff)