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The New Arab Staff

UAE ratifies visa exemption agreement with Israel

The deal allows citizens of both countries to visit the other without a visa [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 November, 2020

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The UAE’s state news agency WAM said Abu Dhabi had ratified an agreement to waiver visas for Israeli citizens.

The UAE and Israeli ratified an agreement to exempt citizens from countries from the need to obtain pre-approved visas, state news reported.

"The cabinet ratified a number of agreements between the government of the UAE and a number of friendly countries, including the ratification of the agreement between the UAE and the State of Israel regarding mutual exemption from entry visa requirements," UAE's state news agency WAM said in a statement.

"The UAE's council of ministers approved the agreement due to its positive effects on the sectors of tourism, trade and investment," it added.

"The move will also strengthen the bonds of joint cooperation between the two countries," it added, weeks after officially forming ties with the occupying state.

Israel's Knesset has yet to ratify the agreement on its end - a necessary requirement before it comes into force.

The United Arab Emirates, which announced that it was normalising relations with Israel last August, is the first Arab country to sign a waiver agreement with Israel. Even staunch Israeli ally, the United States, has yet to extend a visa exemption to the Jewish State, according to The Times of Israel.

Last month, Israel's internal security service, the Shin Bet, expressed reservations over a visa waiver agreement, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth however, Shin Bet believes that the visa waiver will allow Emiratis to enter Israel without being vetted.

The security force argues that it would be unable to gather adequate information about the identities or histories of anyone suspected of being hostile to Israel from entering the country.

These means the Emiratis would have to be stopped from entering the country after they had boarded a plane to Israel and landed at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Yedioth Ahronoth explained that the Shin Bet could deport Emiratis arriving in Israel if they were on a list of suspects, despite the waiver programme.

Read also: Arab Israeli diplomat says security guards choked him

Shin Bet officers regularly interrogate visitors to Israel from Arab countries at Ben-Gurion Airport, as well as citizens of European and North American countries of Iranian and Arab origin.

Human rights organisations and the media have previously noted that persons of Arab origin are searched and questioned in a humiliating way at the Israeli airport.

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