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Israel ratifies first ever visa-free agreement with UAE

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo shows the interior of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

Israel ratifies an unprecedented treaty signed with the United Arab Emirates that enables people to travel visa-free from the occupied territories to the Emirates and vice versa.

The Knesset, Israel’s parliament endorsed the treaty on Sunday, The Times of Israel reported. It had been signed ceremoniously outside Tel Aviv last month in the presence of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and a visiting Emirati delegation.

The treaty makes the UAE the first-ever destination which the Israelis could travel to without needing to apply for visas in advance. There is no such agreement between the occupying regime and any country in the world, not even Tel Aviv’s oldest and strongest ally, the United States.

For its part, the UAE government reportedly ratified the agreement on November 1.

The UAE and Bahrain signed US-mediated normalization deals with Israel at the White House on September 15.

The development has been unanimously condemned by all Palestinians and pro-Palestinian countries and officials around the world as a sheer “betrayal” of the Palestinian cause of liberation from the Israeli occupation and aggression.

Speaking before the vote, Netanyahu hailed “the great change that we are bringing to our region in every field.”

“This is the first Arab country with which we have signed such an agreement and this is a step that will facilitate reciprocal tourism,” he noted.

Abu Dhabi has also “passed along” a message that it wished to facilitate the reciprocal opening of embassies in Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi “as soon as possible,” the Israeli paper reported, citing Israel’s foreign ministry.

Trying not to conceal his jubilation, Netanyahu further mentioned a visit to the occupied territories by Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani last week. “This is an immense change,” the Israeli premier said.

The Bahraini minister's visit featured signing of a similar agreement for an “online visa application” arrangement between the two sides.

The US has been advertising the normalization deals as a foreign policy victory for outgoing President Donald Trump’s administration.

Various regional and international officials and pundits, however, have warned against allowing the occupying regime to carve out a foothold in the Persian Gulf. They say the highly sensitive region’s affairs, especially its security matters, have to be handled by the littoral states without the interference of outside parties. 

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