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Israel sees signing ceremony on UAE deal in mid-September

A fighter loyal to Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement stands guard next to a mural denouncing Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (R) and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a rally in the capital Sana’a, on August 22, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

An Israeli minister says the regime expects holding a signing ceremony in Washington for a recently-reached normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates by the middle of next month.

Israeli regional cooperation minister Ofir Akunis said on Sunday that the date for the ceremony could be decided by senior aides to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump when they fly to Abu Dhabi on Monday for talks.

“This (normalization) agreement is expected to be signed in the month of September in the city of Washington,” he told the Israeli Kan broadcaster. “That is meant to be one of the outcomes of the talks in the next 24 hours in the Emirates - setting a date for the signing.”

The US and Israeli delegations are due to travel together to the UAE capital on an El Al Israel Airlines plane, Israel’s first direct flight between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.

Akunis said that the Netanyahu regime hopes the signing ceremony will take place “before our Rosh Hashanah” or Jewish new year, which is on September 18.

Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner and other US officials are due in the occupied territories on Sunday to prepare for the UAE mission.

Kushner is expected to tour the Middle East in a bid to convince multiple Arab leaders to attend the ceremony meant to formalize the UAE-Israel deal at the White House, several diplomatic and congressional sources told CNN.

Kushner is also using his trip to pursue more normalization agreements between Israel and Arab states, the sources added.

In a joint statement issued by the White House on August 13, Israel and the UAE announced that they had “agreed to the full normalization of relations.”

All Palestinian factions have unanimously condemned the UAE-Israel deal, describing it as a stab in the back of the oppressed nation.

On Saturday, the UAE announced it was scrapping its economic boycott against Israel, allowing trade and financial accords between the two sides.

“We are talking about commercial deals worth $500 million in the initial stages, and this will keep rising all the time,” Akunis said, adding that such bilateral deals will give rise to “trilateral investments.”

Earlier this week, the Middle East Eye (MEE) news portal reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had canceled a planned visit to Washington to meet the Israeli premier amid fears that the news of his trip has been leaked.

Trump and Kushner, who were pushing for the meeting to take place, saw the prospect of a handshake between Netanyahu and bin Salman as a way to shore up regional support for the US-brokered normalization deal between the UAE and Israel, according to the report.

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