Alwaght- The UAE has reached a visa exemption agreement with Israeli regime, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday.
The announcement came following the arrival of an official delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for talks on more cooperation deals with the Tel Aviv regime.
"Today, we are making history in a way that will stand for generations," Netanyahu said, of a deal that has been widely denounced by Palestinians and much of the Muslim world.
An Etihad Airways plane carrying Emirati government officials, with US officials accompanying them, took off from the UAE capital Abu Dhabi on Tuesday morning, and landed in Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv hours later.
Netanyahu, wearing a mask, welcomed the Emirati delegation at the airport near Tel Aviv, and said the visit marked "a glorious day for peace."
Netanyahu said the two sides had signed four agreements on Monday, including one "exempting our nationals from visas."
The visa-free travel will enter into force once it is ratified by both sides, meaning a process that will require a vote in the Knesset.
On Monday, the UAE cabinet, headed by Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, formally approved the normalization deal with Israel.
Emirati officials said in a statement they hoped the normalization accord would be “an avenue of peace and stability to support the ambitions of the region’s people and enhance efforts for prosperity and advancement.”
Israel’s Knesset also approved the deal with the UAE in mid-October by an overwhelming majority, but emphasized that it would be ratified in the near future.
Eighty lawmakers voted in favor of the agreement. Only 13 parliamentarians — all from the Arab-majority Joint List — voted against the deal, criticizing it as a scheme to undermine the Palestinian people.
The American officials accompanying the Emirati team arrived in Abu Dhabi on Monday from Bahrain, where they joined an Israeli delegation on a trip to Manama to sign a joint communiqué formalizing nascent ties.
The US delegation is led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Special Representative for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz.
Israel and the UAE have already signed several memoranda of understanding. They will ink a deal on Tuesday to allow 28 weekly commercial flights between Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, according to Israel’s Transportation Ministry.
On Monday morning, Etihad Airways Flight EY9607 — described as the first commercial shuttle from the UAE to Israel — landed at Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv. The flight arrived without passengers, but later departed for Abu Dhabi with an Israeli travel and tourism delegation on board.
The first cargo ship from the Emirates docked in Haifa a week ago carrying electronics and other goods and a port spokesman told AFP such arrivals were expected to become a weekly occurrence.
Netanyahu signed US-brokered normalization deals with the Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani during a September 15 ceremony at the White House.
The normalization deals have drawn widespread condemnation from Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital. They say the deals ignore their rights and do not serve the Palestinian cause.
Many Arab states say they remain committed to the so-called Arab Peace Initiative – which calls for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied after 1967 in exchange for peace and the full normalization of relations.
But speculation has been rife that some countries in the region would soon join the bandwagon to normalize with Israel.