14:08 GMT12 April 2021
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    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday received the first-ever ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Mahmoud Al Khajah, from the UAE, following the agreement that the countries made last year to normalize relations.

    On Tuesday, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz, while on a visit to an Israel-Gaza border crossing, revealed that Israel plans to develop a “special security arrangement” with new Gulf Arab allies, Reuters reported.

    “I don’t think it’s going to be a defense pact but we are going to develop defense relations with every country that we have relations with,” Gantz told Reuters.

    “We have this process of setting up [a] special security arrangement, and within this arrangement we can continue and develop our relations,” Gantz added, although he declined to provide additional details on what such an arrangement could include. 

    Gantz also noted that Israel had no opposition to former US president Donald Trump’s deal to sell 50 Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth jets to the UAE during his last days in office. The deal is currently being examined by US President Joe Biden, Reuters reported last month.

    UAE envoy Mohamed Mahmoud Al Khajah arrived in Israel on Monday, where he met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin during a ceremony in Jerusalem. The UAE’s first ambassador to Israel also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday to discuss regional and bilateral projects:

    "We're changing the Middle East. We're changing the world," Netanyahu told Al Khajah during the meeting, the National News reported.

    Last week, Al Khaja held talks with Israel's temporary ambassador in the UAE, Eitan Na’eh, who is stationed in Abu Dhabi, with the parties having discussed means of developing bilateral relations.

    ​In addition to the UAE, other majority-Muslim countries, including Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan also normalized relations with the Jewish state last year. The Abraham Accords establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain and Israel were signed in Washington last September. Morocco and Sudan later followed suit, inking similar agreements with Israel.

    The rapprochement met harsh criticism in Palestine.


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