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UAE approves opening of embassy in Tel Aviv

Israel also announced the opening of an embassy in Abu Dhabi just over four months after signing a normalisation deal
Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump, Bahrain's Abdullatif al-Zayani, and the UAE's Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan wave from the Truman Balcony at the White House in September 2020 (AFP)

The UAE has approved the establishment of its first embassy in Israel in the city of Tel Aviv four months after signing a normalisation deal with the country.

"The government approves the creation of the embassy of the United Arab Emirates to Tel Aviv, in the state of Israel," it announced on Twitter on Sunday.

The UAE, along with Bahrain, signed a US-brokered deal in September to normalise relations.

The agreements, known as the "Abraham Accords", shattered a longstanding Arab consensus that there should be no normalisation with Israel until it reaches a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.

The Palestinians condemned the agreements as a "stab in the back".

On Sunday, Israel also announced the opening of an embassy in Abu Dhabi

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"Today the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi has officially been opened, with the arrival of the mission head Eitan Naeh," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"The Israeli embassy in the United Arab Emirates will advance relations between the countries on all levels."

Earlier this month, Sudan also signed the Abraham Accords, becoming the third Arab country to do so and the fourth to normalise diplomatic relations with Israel in as many months.

Morocco also normalised ties with Israel in December, in a diplomatic quid pro quo that saw Washington back Moroccan rule over the disputed Western Sahara region.

Until last year, only Egypt, in 1979, and Jordan, in 1994, had normalised ties with Israel.

The UAE is not following the US, however, in establishing its embassy in Jerusalem, a move which gives legitimacy to Israeli claims of full sovereignty over the city.

Former President Donald Trump opened the new US embassy in Jerusalem in May 2018, recognising the city as the capital of Israel. Palestinians have long claimed East Jerusalem, which was conquered by Israel in 1967, as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Despite opposing the move when it happened, last week new President Joe Biden said he would not be moving the embassy out of the city.