Israel, UAE agree on visa-free travel: Netanyahu

Giant steps’ Netanyahu hails 7 agreements signed in Bahrain

Israeli officials said the two sides were expected to sign a mutual visa-exemption agreement - Israel's first with an Arab country.

A delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has arrived in Israel on Tuesday for the country's first official visit since the countries established diplomatic relations in August. "The Middle Eastern countries need to understand that what we are doing is for the benefit of all the peoples of the region", said Netanyahu, who received the delegation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted al-Tayer and Mnuchin at Israel's Ben-Gurion global airport before signing a series of bilateral agreements between Israel and the UAE, including civil aviation, visa exemption and science and innovation deals.

The UAE and Israel signed a US-brokered deal to normalise ties at the White House on September 15, marking the first such deal with a Gulf state.

A day earlier, the UAE cabinet, headed by Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, formally approved the normalization deal with Israel. "Inshallah more will follow and we will live in peace and cooperation with all our neighbors".

The normalization of ties between the two countries is taking place under mediation by the Trump administration, which was represented at the ceremony by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

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A statement issued by Etihad said that onboard was an Israeli travel and tourism delegation to the UAE.

Four agreements were signed by UAE delegation lead Obaid Al Tayer on behalf of the UAE along with Israeli Minister of Finance Israel Katz.

At the ceremony, the U.S., UAE and Israel announced the establishment of the Abraham Fund, which aims to raise $3 billion in private funding for "development initiatives to promote regional economic cooperation and prosperity in the Middle East and beyond". "With greater economic prosperity comes stronger security", he added. The Emirati and Bahraini governments ratified their agreements with Israel on Monday, state media reported.

Since the signing of the Abraham Accords in Washington, each joint step taken by Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain has been labeled "historic" by Benyamin Netanyahu.

The UAE was the first major Arab state to recognize Israel since the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty was signed in October 1994.

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