UAE, Israel to Cooperate in Fight Against COVID-19
UAE-Israel relations took another step forward on Thursday as the two countries announced that they would soon begin cooperation in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Two private Emirati companies and two Israeli companies will work together on medical projects, the UAE’s state-run Emirates News Agency (WAM) said. Israel and the United Arab Emirates have no formal diplomatic relations, but discreet, covert ties have increasingly been brought out into the open as the Jewish and Arab Gulf states find common regional interests, particularly in repelling threats from Iran and its allies. “This scientific and medical partnership overcomes historical and political challenges in the region,” said WAM in a statement in Arabic. Last week, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said his country could work with Israel on technology and in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, despite political differences. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel and the UAE would collaborate on R&D and technology projects “to improve the well-being of the entire region.” The Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad flew twice to Tel Aviv, in May and June, to bring coronavirus-related aid to the Palestinian territories – the first known flights by a UAE carrier to Israel. The Palestinian Authority, which has cut all ties to Israel in protest against the Netanyahu government’s intention to annex parts of the West Bank, refused to accept the aid in both cases. On June 16, Gargash told a conference of the American Jewish Committee that Israel cannot expect to normalize relations with the Arab world if it annexes land in the territories where the Palestinians hope to build a future state of their own, and that cooperation on the pandemic would not affect the UAE’s opposition to annexation.