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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel, UAE discuss 'deeper cooperation' against Covid-19 following controversial normalisation

Israel and the UAE announced the controversial move last week [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 August, 2020

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Israeli and Emirati officials discussed plans to cooperate in the fight against the novel coronavirus on Monday, state media reported, days after a controversial announcement to normalise ties.
The health ministers of Israel and the United Arab Emirates spoke by telephone on Monday to discuss cooperation in the fight against the novel coronavirus, Emirati state media reported.

The call between Emirati minister Abdul Rahman Al-Owais and his Israeli counterpart Yuli Edelstein came after the announcement on August 13 that the two nations would normalise ties in a historic US-backed deal.

The two ministers discussed ways to "strengthen cooperation in the medical field" related to the pandemic, the official Emirati agency WAM reported. 

They spoke about possible scientific and medical partnerships including vaccine trials and treatments as well as a possible exchange of delegations, it said.

Even before their move to normalise ties, which makes the Gulf state only the third Arab country to seek to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel, firms from both countries had agreed to collaborate against the respiratory disease.

Two Israeli defence companies signed a deal with an Emirati company in July to develop a non-invasive coronavirus screening test which could produce results in minutes.

State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the country's largest aerospace and defence firm, as well as the government's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, last month signed the memorandum of understanding with Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42.

And earlier this month, the UAE's APEX National Investment and Israel's TeraGroup signed an agreement to jointly develop research and studies on the novel coronavirus, WAM reported.

The UAE deal has been slammed by Palestinians and pro-Palestine groups, who said it extracted zero concessions from Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the UAE leadership's claims that Israel agreed to halt its planned annexation of large parts of the West Bank in exchange for the deal. 

Most Arab states have agreed only to recognise Israel if a Palestinian state is established along 1967 boundaries, with Netanyahu rejecting such conditions.

There has been huge anger at Abu Dhabi in the Arab world with some considering the agreement a way of the UAE and Israel working more closely on regional strategic objectives.

The two countries had already collaborated on security and spyware issues, while both strongly oppose Iran and Turkey's influence in the region.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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