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Israel's largest lender bank expects UAE bank ties to follow normalisation

Israeli stand in front of a branch of Israel's Hapoalim Bank on February 18, 2014 [JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli stand in front of a branch of Israel's Hapoalim Bank on February 18, 2014 [JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images]

Israel’s largest lender Bank Hapoalim expects to start working with banks in the United Arab Emirates once the two Middle East states sign a normalisation agreement, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

The UAE and Israel are due to sign the agreement, brokered by the United States, on September 15 at a ceremony held by US President Donald Trump.

The three sides have talked up the economic opportunities that normalisation would bring and several business cooperation agreements have already been signed.

Hapoalim CEO Dov Kotler said a correspondent banking relationship facilitating direct money transfers between the countries would help develop trade and business ties.

“I believe that after the governments sign the agreement next week we will be able to work with the banking system here,” he told Reuters during a visit to the UAE.

In correspondent banking, a bank with no branch or network in a given country will typically channel payments there through a local bank that acts on its behalf.

Kotler is leading an Israeli business delegation on a two-day visit to the UAE as the two countries develop bilateral economic relations.

READ: Normalising ties with Israel helps promote its expansionism

“We are here to build trust before talking business. In order to build trust I believe we have to meet face to face and that is what we are doing,” he said.

Israel and the UAE on August 13 agreed to normalise relations, making the UAE the first Gulf country and the third Arab state to do so when a final accord is signed.

Kotler said he believed Hapoalim would establish relationships with the three largest lenders in the UAE, though declined to name the banks.

The UAE’s largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank has said it would open discussions with Hapoalim and Bank Leumi, another Israeli bank.

Bank Leumi is to lead a delegation to the UAE on September 14.

Emirates BND, Dubai’s largest bank, declined to comment on the visit of Hapoalim this week.

With deal, UAE abandons Palestinian struggle - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

With deal, UAE abandons Palestinian struggle – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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