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UAE, Israel establish direct phone service

Israeli, Emirati firms join forces in coronavirus research

By AFP - Aug 17,2020 - Last updated at Aug 17,2020

This photo taken on Friday in Dubai shows the front pages of UAE-based The National and Gulf News newspapers with their headlines reflecting the announcements on the previous day as Israel and the UAE agreed to exchange relations in a landmark US-brokered deal (AFP photo)

DUBAI — The Israeli and Emirati foreign ministers inaugurated Sunday direct phone services between the two countries in their first announced call after an agreement to exchange relations, said an Emirati official.

The UAE's Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed AlNahyan and Israel's Gabi Ashkenazi "inaugurated a phone link between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, and exchanged greetings following the historic Peace Accord signed by the two countries," tweeted Hend AlOtaiba, director of strategic communications at the UAE's foreign ministry.

Shortly after, Ashkenazi tweeted that the two "decided together on the establishment of a direct communication channel ahead of the signing of the agreement between the two countries and... to meet soon".

Phone links for the public were also functioning between the two countries. The Israel-UAE deal, announced by US President Donald Trump on Thursday, is only the third such accord Israel has struck with an Arab country, and raises the prospect of similar deals with other proWestern Gulf states. Trump said leaders from the two countries would sign the agreement at the White House in around three weeks.

Under the deal Israel pledged to suspend its planned annexation of West Bank territories, a concession welcomed by European and some pro-Western Arab governments as a boost for hopes of peace.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed Israel was not abandoning its plans to one day annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements across the occupied West Bank.

Firms from the United Arab Emirates and Israel have signed an agreement to jointly develop research and studies on the novel coronavirus, the UAE’s state WAM agency reported.

The UAE’s APEX National Investment and Israel’s TeraGroup signed the “strategic commercial agreement” late Saturday in Abu Dhabi, WAM said in a statement.

“We are delighted with this cooperation with TeraGroup, which is considered the first business to inaugurate trade, economy and effective partnerships between the Emirati and Israeli business sectors,” APEX chairman Khalifa Yousef Khouri said.

APEX is an investment company with a particular focus on the healthcare sector. The deal would be “serving humanity by strengthening research and studies on the novel coronavirus”, Khouri added.

The two companies hope to develop a rapid test for coronavirus. Before the political deal, two Israeli defence companies last month signed an agreement with an Emirati company to collaborate on the development of a non-invasive coronavirus screening test.

State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries as well as the government’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, signed a memorandum of understanding with Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42 in July.

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