Cabinet approves visa-free travel from UAE

US funding research in West Bank passes cabinet vote • New ambassador to Ethiopia approved

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, will have daily flights to Tel Aviv beginning in March 2021.  (photo credit: ETIHAD)
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, will have daily flights to Tel Aviv beginning in March 2021.
(photo credit: ETIHAD)
The cabinet voted in favor of a visa-free agreement with the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, a deal that would allow Israelis and Emiratis to travel between the countries without the need for a visa.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out that this was the first time Israel has ever signed such an agreement with an Arab country.
“This is an important step for mutual tourism,” Netanyahu said. “It will open and strengthen the ties between the countries [such as] the economic ties. I believe that the citizens of Israel and the whole world see the tremendous change we are making in our region.”
Netanyahu recalled the Bahraini foreign minister’s visit to Jerusalem last week, as well as Sudan abstaining on an anti-Israel resolution at the UN, as signs that change and more good news are to come.
Last week, Etihad Airways, one of the UAE’s national carriers, announced that it would start daily direct flights to Israel starting in March. And budget airline flydubai plans to operate 14 weekly flights to Tel Aviv starting this month.
The cabinet also approved agreements with the US that are revised to extend their purview to Judea and Samaria.
These agreements, called BSF, BIRD and BARD, involve endowments to American and Israeli academics and companies for scientific, industrial and agricultural research. The changes to them mean that US taxpayer money may go to research conducted by Israelis in the West Bank.
Washington originally said the projects conducted under the agreements “may not be conducted in geographic areas which came under the administration of the Government of Israel after June 5, 1967, and may not relate to subjects primarily pertinent to such areas.”
This change was announced last month, in line with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement that the US no longer considers settlements to be illegal per se. The revisions mean there will no longer be any agreements between Israel and the US having territorial limitations.
Following the cabinet vote, the agreements will go to the Knesset Finance Committee for approval.
Also on Sunday, the cabinet approved Alali Adamso as Israel’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Burundi and Chad.
Adamso, who will be based in Addis Ababa, is the first political appointment by Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, although he was a Likud lawmaker for five months in 2012 and 2013, and an adviser to Netanyahu on the Ethiopian-Israeli community.
More recently, Adamso established his own party, which did not pass the electoral threshold, and supported Blue and White.
Immigration Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata tweeted that Adamso “is a professional and worthy person who has come a long way since moving to Israel from Ethiopia. He was a groundbreaker and fulfilled a number of roles for the public’s benefit.”