In sign of warming ties, Israel hails UAE Mars shot
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In sign of warming ties, Israel hails UAE Mars shot

Foreign Ministry expresses hope the attempt to launch first Arab space probe ‘will contribute towards deeper cooperation between all countries in the region’

Illustrative -- In this file photo taken on September 25, 2019 a man takes a picture of an illustration depicting an astronaut with the Emirati national flag outside Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai (KARIM  SAHIB / AFP)
Illustrative -- In this file photo taken on September 25, 2019 a man takes a picture of an illustration depicting an astronaut with the Emirati national flag outside Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai (KARIM SAHIB / AFP)

In another sign of warming ties between Israel and Gulf Arab nations, the Jewish state Tuesday congratulated the UAE on its bid to launch the first Arab space probe.

The United Arab Emirates announced last month that it would launch a mission to Mars in July.

The unmanned probe, named Hope, has been billed as “the first interplanetary exploration undertaken” by an Arab state.

“We wish the UAE the best of luck on the launch of this scientific mission, and hope this step will contribute towards deeper cooperation between all countries in the region,” the foreign ministry’s “Israel in the Gulf” Twitter account wrote in Arabic.

Except for Jordan and Egypt, Arab countries have no official relations with Israel.

But Arab states in the Gulf like the UAE have been warming ties with Israel recently amid shared concerns over Iran.

The UAE made its first publicly announced flight to Israel last month when its Etihad Airways sent medical aid for Palestinians to combat the coronavirus pandemic, and on Tuesday a second plane landed at Ben Gurion Airport.

Unlike the first flight last month, the Dreamliner 787 used Tuesday carried the Etihad logo and the United Arab Emirates flag.

An Etihad airlines cargo plane at Ben-Gurion airport on June 9, 2020. (Moni Shiffer/Israel Airports Authority)

Arab countries have called for a settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a condition for normalizing ties with the Jewish state.

But Gulf Arab states have shown signs of a rapprochement with Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Oman in 2018, and Israeli athletes and officials have being increasingly allowed to visit the Gulf states.

UAE’s WAM said the Hope probe would be launched on July 15 from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre.

It is set to make a 495-million-kilometre (307-million-mile) journey to reach and orbit Mars.

Last September, Hazza al-Mansouri made history as the first Emirati in space.

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