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The New Arab Staff

Emirati ship docks in Haifa port for first time, linking UAE and Israel by sea

Haifa is now linked with UAE ports [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 October, 2020

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The UAE and Israel have continued strengthening economic ties since signing a controversial normalisation deal last month.

A UAE ship on Monday became the first ever to officially dock in an Israeli port, with a direct sea trade route established between the cities of Haifa and Dubai.

Off-loading containers with iron, firefighter equipment, and other cargo, it is the first of what will be a weekly delivery for the UAE ship, the MSC Paris, sailing from Jebel Ali in Dubai to Haifa Port, according to Israeli media reports.

The seas will be the main route for trade between the two countries that signed a controversial normalisation deal last month and estimated to reach $4 billion annually.

The docking of the MSC Paris marks a historic chapter in relations between Israel and the UAE, with both countries eager to boost trade and cooperation since normalising ties.

"A new trade route was opened between the UAE and Israel," the prime minister tweeted. 

"The peace agreement between us leads to collaborations that will bring billions to the citizens of Israel. This is especially important during the coronavirus period, so we can help everyone and strengthen the economy."

On 13 August, Israel and the UAE announced they would normalise relations, with Bahrain soon following suit.

The three countries signed agreements in the White House in August amid rumours that other Arab countries would follow suit.

Recent reports suggest that OmanSudan, and even Saudi Arabia could announce normalisation deals with Israel.

So far, none have formally agreed to normalise ties with Israel, but countries such as Qatar are remaining steadfast to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, with peace dependent on the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The Israeli government approved the normalisation agreement with the UAE on Monday, while the parliament is set to ratify it on Thursday.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the UAE's de-facto ruler, welcomed the move on Monday.

"During a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we discussed strengthening bilateral ties and examined prospects for peace and the need for stability, cooperation and development in the region," he tweeted.

The two leaders have agreed to "meet soon", according to Netanyahu.

The UAE and Israel have agreed a number of Memorandums of Understanding while businesses in the two countries are eager to bolster cooperation.

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