UAE’s 1st ambassador meets with FM Ashkenazi during visit to Israel

Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah expected to present credentials to Rivlin and meet Netanyahu; will look for home and site for embassy

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (R) meets with Emirati Ambassador to Israel Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah on March 1, 2021 (Foreign Ministry)
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (R) meets with Emirati Ambassador to Israel Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah on March 1, 2021 (Foreign Ministry)

The United Arab Emirates’ first ambassador to Israel, Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah, met Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Monday, who welcomed him to the Jewish state.

Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah will spend several days in the country, during which time he will reportedly meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials, as well as scout out suitable locations for the embassy and his home.

“We have a historic opportunity to present a model of a warm and comprehensive peace between countries and nations. The opening of Foreign Ministry missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and the opening of the Emirates’ Embassy in Israel are critical to establishing bilateral relations and promoting peace,” said Ashkenazi at the meeting in Jerusalem.

“I am happy to see the rapid warming of relations between the countries, and the realization of the vision of peace between cultures and peoples,” he added.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (R) meets with Emirati Ambassador to Israel Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah on March 1, 2021 (Foreign Ministry)

Al Khajah, who came with a small team of staffers, was scheduled to present his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin in an official ceremony at the President’s House.

He tweeted that he had arrived in Tel Aviv and met with Ashkenazi to discuss “growing bilateral relations”, as well as enhancing cooperation in various fields.

The ambassador arrived in a private jet and, in keeping with Israel’s Health Ministry policy, immediately underwent a coronavirus test, Hebrew-language media reported.

Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah, the UAE’s first ambassador to Israel (Twitter)

On Tuesday he will reportedly meet with Netanyahu.

Israel and the UAE normalized ties last September with the signing of the so-called Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington, in a deal brokered by then-US president Donald Trump’s administration. Bahrain also joined the accords, establishing ties with Israel.

Earlier this month, Al Khajah was sworn in by UAE Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Al Khajah has met with Israel’s temporary ambassador in the UAE Eitan Na’eh, who is stationed in Abu Dhabi. The Israeli embassy is currently working from a temporary office until a permanent location can be found.

He has also met with Zvi Heifetz, Israel’s special envoy to the Gulf States, the Walla news website reported last week.

Al Khajah has opened a Twitter account that posts messages in both English and Hebrew. So far he has gained nearly 30,000 followers.

The UAE embassy to Israel also already has a Twitter account, opened this month.

Although the exchange of embassies has progressed, a visa waiver agreement for travelers between Israel and the UAE has been held up due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left; United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan; and Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa; at the White House, Sept. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Earlier this month, Netanyahu postponed what would have been his first official visit to the UAE since the establishment of official diplomatic relations, and no future date has yet been announced. The Prime Minister’s Office said at the time that the decision to postpone the trip indefinitely was made due to the closing down of air travel to and from Israel, as part of a national lockdown aimed at preventing coronavirus infections arriving from abroad.

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