Israel's president said on Monday he has invited the United Arab Emirate's de facto leader, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, to visit Jerusalem after last week's announcement of a normalization deal with the UAE.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced Thursday they are establishing full diplomatic relations in a U.S.-brokered deal that required Israel to halt its contentious plan to annex West Bank land sought by the Palestinians. The UAE would only be third Arab state in more than 70 years to establish relations with Israel.
"I am hopeful that the agreement between our countries will help build and strengthen the trust between us and the peoples of the region, bring economic benefit and regional stability," President Reuven Rivlin tweeted, saying he had sent an invitation letter.
"I have no doubt that future generations will appreciate the way you, the brave and wise leaders have restarted the discourse on peace, trust, dialogue between peoples and religions, cooperation and a promising future."
He hinted that he hopes that other Arab states will follow in the UAE's footsteps, saying it will "illuminate the road ahead" for others. "On behalf of the people of Israel and personally, I take this opportunity to extend an invitation to Your Highness to visit Israel and Jerusalem and be our honored guest."
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is preparing for direct flights, over Saudi Arabia, to the United Arab Emirates as part of its normalization deal.
"We are currently working on enabling direct flights, over Saudi Arabia, between Tel Aviv and Dubai and Abu Dhabi," Netanyahu told reporters, estimating flight time at "about three hours, just like to Rome".
A delegation from Israel is expected to travel to the UAE within weeks to work out the modalities of normalized relations, but any swift opening of a commercial air route could be complicated by coronavirus restrictions.