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Israel: right-wing interior minister makes first official visit to UAE

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked in Jerusalem on 5 July 2021 [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images]
Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked in Jerusalem on 5 July 2021 [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images]

Israel's right-wing Minister of the Interior has travelled to the UAE for her first official visit to the Emirates. Ayelet Shaked met with her counterpart and Deputy Prime Minister, Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, during a visit to Abu Dhabi yesterday. They discussed initiatives to promote cooperation between the two countries, from digitisation to security in the Gulf state.

Al-Nahyan offered to promote the training and education of Israeli imams in the UAE, especially in matters of religious moderation and the eradication of violence.

Shaked said that the relationship between their countries is strategic, and that continuity is needed from the agreements reached. "Today, I experienced what real peace is," she explained. "The government with its exceptional hospitality has made it clear that a real partnership has been forged between the countries."

Moreover, she announced today that Israelis and Emiratis will also be able to travel to each other's countries without a visa as of Sunday, reported the Jerusalem Post.

Around 200,000 Israelis have visited the UAE since the normalisation of ties under last year's Abraham Accords, and forty Israeli companies have been established in UAE free-trade zones. The normalisation deal was signed on 15 September 2020 in a ceremony at the White House. The Palestinians described the move as a "stab in the back".

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During her visit, the former justice minister has already visited the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Oasis of Dignity, the UAE's war memorial. She plans to visit the Israel Pavilion at the Dubai Expo, which she called "an excellent platform to leverage connections and develop new economic opportunities between Israel, the UAE and the whole world."

Shaked is known for her extreme, racist views regarding Palestinians. In 2015, in a controversial post on Facebook, she called for the death of all Palestinians, referring to children as "little snakes". She encouraged the collective punishment of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. "The entire Palestinian people is the enemy," she declared. Justifying the destruction of the Palestinians, she said that this should include the "elderly and women, cities and villages, property and infrastructure."

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