UAE delegation’s Israel visit likely to be delayed as lockdown looms — minister
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UAE delegation’s Israel visit likely to be delayed as lockdown looms — minister

Planned arrival of Emirati officials might go forward despite closure, but under tight restrictions, Science Minister Izhar Shay says

An Emirati official stands near an El Al plane that carried a US-Israeli delegation to the UAE following a normalization accord, upon its arrival at the Abu Dhabi airport, in the first-ever direct flight from Israel to the UAE, on August 31, 2020. (KARIM SAHIB / AFP)
An Emirati official stands near an El Al plane that carried a US-Israeli delegation to the UAE following a normalization accord, upon its arrival at the Abu Dhabi airport, in the first-ever direct flight from Israel to the UAE, on August 31, 2020. (KARIM SAHIB / AFP)

A planned visit to Israel by an official delegation from the United Arab Emirates later this month will likely be delayed or held under tight restrictions, Science Minister Izhar Shay said Friday.

“It appears [the visit] will either be postponed or a special procedure will be required,” Shay told 102 FM radio, citing Thursday night’s decision to impose a new national lockdown in the coming days, for an unspecified period.

The visit had been planned for September 22, according to a Reuters report, as a reciprocal trip following an Israeli team’s visit to Abu Dhabi on August 31.

“I believe they will appreciate that we are protecting citizens’ health, and if we are forced to postpone the delegation, will accept this with understanding,” said Shay.

National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat elbow bumps with an Emirati official ahead of boarding the plane before leaving Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on September 1, 2020. (Nir Elias/Pool/AFP)

An official signing ceremony in Washington for the normalization deal between the countries is still moving forward on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in attendance.

Israel and the UAE announced on August 13 that they were establishing full diplomatic relations. The UAE is just the third Arab country to agree to official relations with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan. Israeli and American officials have expressed hope that other Gulf Arab countries will soon follow suit, with relations based on mutual commercial and security interests, and shared enmity toward Iran.

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, led the Israeli-American delegation that visited Abu Dhabi at the end of August on the first-ever official Israeli flight from Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv. Also on the trip were US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat.

The head of Israel’s National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat (2nd-R), wearing a protective mask, makes his way to board the plane as he prepares to leave Abu Dhabi on September 1, 2020, at the end of an unprecedented visit on normalizing Israel-UAE relations. (NIR ELIAS / POOL / AFP)

On Thursday cabinet ministers approved a national lockdown due to soaring coronavirus numbers, with 4,000 new daily cases in recent days. The closure, to be finalized next week, is expected to include several phases of changing rules and to last several weeks.

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