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US, Israel, UAE announce establishment of $3 billion regional investment fund

Money will be for trade, infrastructure, energy security through provision of reliable access to electricity and clean water in the region; Netanyahu: ‘An investment in the future’

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al Tayer (R) at Ben Gurion Airport, October 20, 2020 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al Tayer (R) at Ben Gurion Airport, October 20, 2020 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

At a ceremony to welcome the first official ministerial delegation from the United Arab Emirates to Israel, the United States announced on Tuesday the creation of a new trilateral fund to funnel investment to projects that “promote regional economic cooperation and prosperity in the Middle East and beyond.”

A joint statement from the UAE, Israel and the US sent out by the US embassy shortly after the announcement said the fund will be worth more than $3 billion “in private sector-led investment and development initiatives,” though it was unclear if that has already been pledged or is a goal.

“The fund will enable its members to launch people-focused investments, providing opportunity and hope for the region and its youth by enabling them to build a future that serves them and their communities,” the statement read.

“The Abraham Fund will bolster regional trade, enable strategic infrastructure projects, and increase energy security through the provision of reliable access to electricity. The fund also aims to improve agricultural productivity and facilitate reliable and efficient access to clean water in the region,” the joint statement read. “The partners welcome participation from other countries to advance these objectives.”

An Etihad Airways plane carrying a delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a first official visit, lands at at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on October 20, 2020. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

As part of the fund, which was included in the Abraham Accords, the three countries will open a development office in Israel.

The statement did not clarify who would be eligible to receive money from the fund.

“The Abraham Fund investment will go a long way to boost even further the historic change that we’re doing. This is an investment in infrastructure. It’s really an investment in the future and in many projects,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“The Abraham Fund will tackle challenges facing the region and increase economic opportunity for everyone,” Adam Boehler, CEO of the US International Development Finance Corporation, said. “We are excited to take this historic partnership to the next level to promote shared prosperity.”

Adam Boehler, CEO of the US International Development Finance Corporation announces the establishment of the Abraham Fund, October 20, 2020 (Screen grab)

The UAE “is confident the initiative can be a source of economic and technological strength for the region, while simultaneously improving the lives of those who need the most support,” said Ahmed Al Sayegh, the Emirati minister of state.

The fund was launched as a delegation of senior United Arab Emirates officials arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday for a series of meetings with their Israeli counterparts.

During their five-hour stay, the UAE delegation, headed by the ministers and the economy and finance and two deputy ministers, signed four bilateral agreements with Jerusalem, including a visa waiver agreement — a first for an Arab country.

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