United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on Sunday swore in his country’s first ambassador to the State of Israel, Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah.
It was not immediately clear when Mohamed Alkhaja will arrive in Israel to take up his post.
In late January, Israel officially opened its embassy to the UAE as Ambassador Eitan Na’eh arrived in Abu Dhabi. The same day the UAE approved the opening of its embassy in Tel Aviv.
The two countries 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.
Avi Berkowitz, a former assistant to Trump, and who helped shape the accords welcomed Al Khajah’s appointment.
“It’s hard to express the joy this brings to me and the team – led by President Trump and Jared Kushner – that worked on the Abraham Accords – thank you to the UAE for leading the way,” Berkowitz tweeted.
It's hard to express the joy this brings to me and the team – led by President Trump and Jared Kushner – that worked on the Abraham Accords – thank you to the UAE for leading the way. https://t.co/lseqvBApol
— Avi Berkowitz (@AviBerkow) February 14, 2021
The UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba also welcomed the development, tweeting his congratulations to Al Khajah.
“Mohamed will be a great champion of the Abraham Accord — of people-to-people exchange, of trade and investment, of regional peace and stability,” Al Otaiba wrote.
Israel’s ambassador to the UAE, Eitan Na’eh, is stationed in Abu Dhabi. The embassy is currently working from a temporary office, until a permanent location can be found.
Although the exchange of embassies has progressed, a visa waiver agreement between Israel and the UAE has been held up due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu postponed an impending trip to the UAE 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.
Netanyahu had planned to travel to Abu Dhabi and Manama ahead of the March 23 elections in Israel, in what would have been his first official visit since the establishment of official diplomatic relations with the UAE and Bahrain last year. The trip had at first been tentatively scheduled for early January, and then for later in that month, but was pushed off by COVID-related considerations.