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UAE cabinet approves Israel normalisation deal

First Emirati passenger flight lands at Tel Aviv as UAE government approves establishing relations
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan (L) and his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi are pictured before their historic meeting in Berlin, 6 October (AFP)

The Emirati cabinet has approved an agreement to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel, confirming the normalisation deal signed in Washington last month.

The move comes ahead of a visit by a delegation from the United Arab Emirates to Israel, scheduled to arrive on Tuesday.

In statement on Monday, the cabinet statement said the so-called Abraham Accords would be "an avenue of peace and stability to support the ambitions of the region's people, and enhance efforts for prosperity and advancement, especially as it paves the way for deepening economic, culture and knowledge ties."

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The UAE and fellow Gulf state Bahrain in September became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to sign agreements to establish formal ties with Israel, forming a new axis in the Middle East against Iran.

Israel ratified the deal in a cabinet vote and a parliamentary vote last week.

The UAE delegates to Israel are set to be accompanied by US officials who arrived in Abu Dhabi on Monday from Bahrain, where they had joined an Israeli delegation on a trip to Manama to sign a communique formalising nascent ties.

Israel and the UAE have already signed several memoranda of understanding.

They will ink a deal on Tuesday to allow 28 weekly commercial flights between Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Israel's transportation ministry has said.

The deal between the two countries has been controversial internationally, with Palestinians in particular denouncing the move as a betrayal of their cause.

First flight to Israel

The first ever passenger flight from the UAE to Israel landed near Tel Aviv on Monday.

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Etihad Airways flight EY 9607 from Abu Dhabi landed at Ben Gurion airport early in the morning with only crew on board, a spokeswoman for the Israel Airports Authority told AFP.

The plane picked up Israeli tourism professionals, who would be flying to the UAE for a two-day visit organised by Israeli company Maman Group, the spokeswoman said.

The UAE carrier said it had made "history".

"Etihad has become the first Gulf airline to operate a passenger flight to Israel. And this is only the beginning," the airline said on Twitter.