Telephone lines between the United Arab Emirates and Israel were opened on Sunday in a development the Israeli communications minister hailed as important for normalising ties between the two countries.
Israel and the UAE on Thursday announced an agreement that will lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two states, between which telephone calls had not been possible previously.
The foreign ministers of both countries held a telephone call with each other to inaugurate the opening of the phone lines, Israeli officials said and UAE foreign ministry spokeswoman Hend Al-Otaiba wrote on Twitter.
“I congratulate the United Arab Emirates on the unblocking,” Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said on Twitter. “Many economic opportunities will now open up, and these trust-building steps are important for advancing the countries’ interests.” The UAE’s two main telecoms operators Du and Etisalat did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, Israel’s intelligence minister said on Sunday that Bahrain and Oman could be the next Gulf countries to follow the United Arab Emirates in formalising ties with Israel. “In the wake of this agreement [with the UAE] will come additional agreements, both with more Gulf countries and with Muslim countries in Africa,” Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Army Radio.
“I think that Bahrain and Oman are definitely on the agenda. In addition, in my assessment, there is a chance that already in the coming year there will be a peace deal with additional countries in Africa, chief among them, Sudan,” he said.
Both Bahrain and Oman praised the UAE-Israel accord, although neither have commented on their own prospects for normalised relations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with Omani and Sudanese leaders in the past two years. A senior US official said on Friday that the White House has been in touch with “numerous” countries in the region, trying to see if more agreements would materialise. The official declined to name the countries but said they were Arab and Muslim nations in the Middle East and Africa.
Meanwhile, Kuwait’s position towards Israel is unchanged after its accord with the United Arab Emirates and it will be the last country to normalise relations, newspaper al-Qabas reported on Sunday citing Kuwaiti government sources. A Kuwait foreign ministry official was not immediately available to comment.—Agencies