UAE, Israel establish direct phone service

DUBAI (AFP) – The Israeli and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Ministers inaugurated yesterday direct phone services between the two countries in their first announced call after an agreement to normalise relations, said an Emirati official.

The UAE’s Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Israel’s Gabi Ashkenazi “inaugurated a phone link between the United Arab Emirates and the state of Israel, and exchanged greetings following the historic Peace Accord signed by the two countries,” tweeted Director of Strategic Communications at the UAE’s Foreign Ministry Hend al-Otaiba.

Shortly after, Ashkenazi tweeted that the two “decided together on the establishment of a direct communication channel ahead of the signing of the normalisation agreement between the two countries and… to meet soon”.

Phone links for the public were also functioning between the two countries.

The Israel-UAE deal, announced by United States (US) President Donald Trump on Thursday, is only the third such accord Israel has struck with an Arab country, and raises the prospect of similar deals with other pro-Western Persian Gulf states.

Trump said leaders from the two countries would sign the agreement at the White House in around three weeks.

Under the deal Israel pledged to suspend its planned annexation of West Bank territories, a concession welcomed by European and some pro-Western Arab governments as a boost for hopes of peace.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed Israel was not abandoning its plans to one day annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements across the occupied West Bank.