First UAE ambassador to Israel begins job

2021-03-01 17:21:23 GMT2021-03-02 01:21:23(Beijing Time) Sina English

The first United Arab Emirates ambassador to Israel arrived on Monday pledging to build up new bilateral relations and officials said he would scout for an embassy location in Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

Mohamed Al Khaja, former chief of staff to the UAE foreign minister, was due to present his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the start of a three-day visit.

Meeting Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in Jerusalem, Al Khaja, 40, said he was “very proud and honored to be the first Emirati ambassador” to Israel. He said he and his hosts were discussing “the model of how we operate.”

“My mission here is to foster and develop this relationship ... and we hope this will bring peace and prosperity to the people in the Middle East,” he said.

The UAE and Israel formalized ties in a Washington ceremony on September 15.

Their so-called “Abraham Accords,” joined by Bahrain, have uncorked tourism and commerce between Israel and Gulf Arab countries.

Palestinians have been critical of the rapprochement, worried that their own unmet statehood goal might be sidelined.

Israel opened an embassy in Abu Dhabi in January.

The country considers Jerusalem its capital but this is not widely recognized abroad.

The Palestinians want their own capital in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 war.

The UAE follows Jordan and Egypt in setting up an embassy.