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Israel: sharp rise in trade with Arab countries since normalisation

September 6, 2021 at 3:47 pm

The Emirati, Israeli and US flags are picture attached to an air-plane of Israel’s El Al, adorned with the word “peace” in Arabic, English and Hebrew, upon it’s arrival at the Abu Dhabi airport in the first-ever commercial flight from Israel to the UAE, on August 31, 2020 [KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images]

Trade between Israel and Arab states has increased dramatically this year since the normalisation of relations started last year, the Central Bureau of Statistics in the occupation state has revealed. Several bilateral agreements on investment, tourism, direct flights, security, and telecommunications have been signed following the so-called Abraham Accords, despite opposition from Palestinians.

New figures cited by Yonatan Gonen, an official at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, show that trade in the first seven months of 2021 increased by 234 per cent compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, the statistics show that trade with the United Arab Emirates grew from $50.8 million between January and July 2020 to $613.9m in the same period this year.

Since a normalisation deal was signed last September, Israeli and Emirati banks and other companies have signed cooperation deals. Direct flights have also been established.

According to the data posted on Twitter by Gonen, described as the “benefits of peace”, trade with Morocco rose from $14.9m to $20.8m, while trade with Jordan increased this year, from $136.2m to $224.2m. Egypt’s figures rose from $92m to $122.4m. According to former White House envoy Avi Berkowitz, this is “just the beginning”.

Last year’s normalisation deals signed by the UAE and Bahrain, followed by Sudan and Morocco, were denounced by Palestinians who claimed that the states had abandoned a unified position under which Arab countries would make peace only after a two-state solution has been implemented, with Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state. Negotiations for this have been moribund for years.

Abu Dhabi said that the deal was an effort to stave off Tel Aviv’s planned annexation of the occupied West Bank. However, opponents believe that normalisation was in the offing for many years as Israeli officials had made official visits to the UAE and attended conferences in the country, despite there being no diplomatic or other ties with the occupation state.

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