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Israel, UAE sign first agreement on finance, including blocking funds for terror

Countries to form joint committee to advance reciprocal investments; Netanyahu welcomes memorandum of understanding, says more will come

Emirati and Israeli officials discuss future cooperation agreements in Abu Dhabi on August 31, 2020 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Emirati and Israeli officials discuss future cooperation agreements in Abu Dhabi on August 31, 2020 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have signed a first formal memorandum of understanding (MOU) on banking and finance, including preventing terror financing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday as an Israeli delegation ended a landmark visit to Abu Dhabi to promote normalization between the countries.

A statement by the Prime Minister’s Office said the MOU was signed by the PMO’s acting director-general Ronen Peretz and by the governor of the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates, Abdulhamid Saeed.

According to the MOU, Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi will form a joint committee to promote cooperation in finance and investments. That will entail removing financial obstacles currently preventing mutual investment between the countries, and advancing joint investments in the capital market.

The countries will also discuss promoting cooperation in banking and payment regulation.

They will “create a special work group to create the conditions for joint investments that meet international standards, including in fighting money laundering and terror financing,” according to the PMO statement.

“I welcome the first understandings signed in Abu Dhabi,” said Netanyahu. “These understandings will help us promote mutual investments and broad collaborations. We will soon announce additional agreements on aviation, tourism, trade and more.”

Emirati and other traders at the Dubai Financial Market in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

On Monday, hours after the first-ever direct Israeli flight to the United Arab Emirates touched down in Abu Dhabi carrying the Israeli delegation, Netanyahu said that the normalization deal with the UAE was the beginning of a “new normal” in the Middle East and would be followed by other regional developments.

Listing all his trips to Middle Eastern countries and meetings with regional leaders in recent years, Netanyahu said his policies had allowed Israel to develop relations with countries “we were always told we would never be able to.”

Israel and the UAE announced on August 13 that they were establishing full diplomatic relations, in a US-brokered deal that required Israel to suspend its plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

The UAE is just the third Arab country to agree to establish official relations with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan. Israeli and American officials have expressed hope that other Arab countries will soon follow suit, with relations based on mutual commercial and security interests, and shared enmity toward Iran.

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