Women wearing face masks against the coronavirus walk past United Arab Emirates and Israeli flags at the Peace Bridge in Netanya, Israel.
Telephone service between the United Arab Emirates and Israel began working Sunday as the two countries opened diplomatic ties, part of a deal brokered by the U.S. that required Israel to halt its contentious plan to annex West Bank land sought by the Palestinians for a future state.
Associated Press journalists in Jerusalem and Dubai were able to call each other from both landline and cellular phones registered to Israel's country code +972 from around 1:15 p.m.
Over an hour later, Emirati officials acknowledged that Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan had called his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi.
Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Handel issued a statement "congratulating the United Arab Emirates on removing the blocks.”
"Many economic opportunities will open now, and these trust-building steps are an important step toward advancing states’ interests," Handel said.
Also Sunday, Israeli news websites that had previously been blocked by UAE authorities, like the Times of Israel, the Jerusalem Post and YNet, could be accessed without using means to bypass internet filtering in the Emirates.
In the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula, a recorded message in Arabic and English would typically play prior to Sunday saying calls to +972 numbers could not be connected. The advent of internet calling allowed people to get around the ban, though these too were often interrupted.
Some in Israel used Palestinian mobile phone numbers with +970 numbers, which those in the UAE could call.
The connection of phone service represents the first concrete sign of the deal between the Emiratis and Israelis.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced Thursday they were establishing full diplomatic relations in the U.S.-brokered accord.
The historic deal delivered a key foreign policy victory to President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election and reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.
Palestinians say it puts a just resolution of the Middle East conflict even farther out of reach by undermining an Arab consensus that recognition of Israel only come in return for concessions in peace talks. That removes a rare source of leverage for the Palestinians.
The agreement will make the UAE the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to have full, active diplomatic ties with Israel. The countries announced it in a joint statement, saying deals between Israel and the UAE were expected in the coming weeks in such areas as tourism, direct flights and embassies.
Early Sunday, the Emirates' state-run WAM news agency announced a UAE company had signed an agreement with an Israeli company for research and study of the coronavirus pandemic.
The move has sparked anger among some who see it as a betrayal of longstanding efforts to establish an independent state of Palestinians. In Pakistan, hundreds of Islamists rallied Sunday to denounce the Emirati-Israeli deal. The Jamaat-e-Islami party chanted slogans against the United States and burned effigies of President Donald Trump. They also set ablaze American and Israeli flags.
The deal also has enraged Iran and Turkey, regional rivals to the UAE.
On Sunday, the chief of staff of Iran's armed forces called the UAE's decision a "disaster.” Mohammad Hossein Bagheri urged Abu Dhabi to "revise” its position.
"If an incident happens in the Persian Gulf and violates the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran, even a tiny bit, and we see it from the UAE, we will not tolerate it,” Bagheri said.
A black-and-white banner declaring a strike replaced the usually illuminated billboard over Gaza City's central Omar al-Mukhtar street.
The UAE has strongly condemned a plan by Israeli premier to annex a third of the occupied West Bank, should he return to office following a general election next week.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin formally received the first-ever ambassador from the Emirates, following last year's historic agreement between the countries to normalise ties.
Community members of all age groups and backgrounds in the UAE celebrated Pakistan’s 75th Independence Day with national zeal. Like every year, the major flag-hoisting ceremony was held in the premises of the Pakistan Embassy in Abu Dhabi which was led by Imtiaz Feroz Gondal, Charge d’Affaires.
Under the patronage of Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, the 11th annual edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) will take place on Sept.28 and 29, 2022, at Expo Centre Sharjah. Vibrant discussions centred around this year’s theme “Challenges and Solutions,” will be led by senior public officials, thought leaders and government communication experts.
The patriotic zest was all too evident in the diplomatic missions of Pakistan in the country. The celebratory spirit gripped the Pakistan Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Pakistan Consulate in Dubai, where Consul General Hassan Afzal Khan graced the events.