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Phone lines open between Israel and UAE as diplomatic ties established

Telephone calls between the United Arab Emirates and Israel are now possible after the two countries normalised ties last week.

The US-brokered diplomatic deal meant that Israel had to agree not to annex West Bank settlements.

The agreement makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state and only the third Arab nation to have active diplomatic ties to Israel.

The UAE had blocked phone calls since its 1971 founding with the view that Israel should grant concessions to Palestinians.

Emirati officials acknowledged on Sunday that Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan had called his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi.

Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel 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," Hendel said.

Israeli news sites that were previously banned in the UAE were also accessible.

More deals between the countries are expected in the coming weeks. They recently announced that companies in both countries would work to research the coronavirus pandemic.

The move has also sparked anger among some who see it as a betrayal of longstanding efforts to establish an independent state of Palestinians.

Hundreds of Islamists in Pakistan rallied Sunday to denounce the Emirati-Israeli deal, for instance.

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