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Inaugurating embassy in UAE, Israel tells region: “We’re here to stay”

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Reuters
(Last Updated On: June 29, 2021)

Israel’s new foreign minister inaugurated its embassy in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday and offered an olive branch to other former adversaries, saying: “We’re here to stay.”

Yair Lapid’s two-day visit is the first to the Gulf state by an Israeli cabinet minister since the countries established ties last year. He was due to sign a bilateral agreement on economic cooperation and open an Israeli consulate in Dubai on Wednesday.

The trip is also an opportunity for the two-week-old Israeli government of Naftali Bennett, a nationalist who heads an improbable cross-partisan coalition, to make diplomatic inroads despite long-stymied talks with the Palestinians.

“Israel wants peace with its neighbours – with all its neighbours. We aren’t going anywhere. The Middle East is our home,” Lapid said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Abu Dhabi high-rise office serving as a temporary embassy.

“We’re here to stay. We call on all the countries of the region to recognise that and to come to talk to us,” he said.

Brought together by shared worries about Iran and hopes for commercial boons, the UAE and Bahrain normalised relations with Israel last year under so-called “Abraham Accords” crafted by the administration of then U.S.-President Donald Trump. Sudan and Morocco have since also moved to establish ties with Israel.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, welcoming Lapid’s visit, said Washington “will continue to work with Israel and the UAE as we strengthen all aspects of our partnerships and work to create a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous future for all the peoples of the Middle East”, the State Department said.

The regional rapprochement was deplored by the Palestinians, who want their demands for statehood free of Israeli occupation addressed first.

President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the accords as “an illusion” and asserted that colonial powers had “implant(ed) Israel as a foreign body in this region in order to fragment it and keep it weak,” according to a report on Tuesday by the official Palestinian news service WAFA.

Tuesday’s agreement will be the 12th between Israel and the UAE, Lior Haiat, spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said. Lapid is also set to visit the site of Expo 2020 Dubai, a world fair opening in October where Israel has built a pavilion.

Lapid’s plane transited through Saudi airspace. Riyadh, although not having normalised relations with Israel, last year opened its skies to Israel-UAE flights.

The UAE formally opened its embassy in Israel, temporarily located in the Tel Aviv stock exchange, this month.

Israel’s Abu Dhabi embassy still has only three diplomats and a head of mission, Eitan Na’eh, who has yet to be confirmed as full ambassador. The consulate in Dubai is similarly located in temporary premises.

Lapid was conciliatory toward former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose attempts to organise a trip to the UAE while in office were scotched by COVID-19 restrictions and who has sought to cast his ouster by Bennett as illegitimate.

Thanking Netanyahu as “the architect of the Abraham Accords”, Lapid said: “This moment is his, no less than it is ours.”

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Improved security boosts tourism in Shulgarh district in Balkh

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(Last Updated On: August 7, 2022)

Local officials in Balkh province said this week that domestic tourism has improved substantially and that in the past month, about 30,000 visitors have visited the popular Khwaja Sekandar Springs in Shulgarh district.

Officials said that Balkh tourist attractions are drawing in large numbers of visitors amid improved security, especially visitors to the springs.

Balkh residents have welcomed the growing number of visitors to their province and said this was largely due to improved security.

“The difference is big, in the past there was insecurity, now because of the security of this place, people come a lot,” said Ghulam Yahya, a tourist.

Since the IEA took control of the country, provinces around the country are reporting an increase in domestic tourism due to the improved security situation.

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More than 1,000 infected with severe diarrhea outbreak in Takhar

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(Last Updated On: August 7, 2022)

The Takhar Department of Public Health says that in the past three days, more than 1,000 people have been infected with severe diarrhea in Takhar province.

The public health officials said that most of the people infected live in the remote areas of Bangi and Ishkamish districts.

According to these officials, mobile health teams have been sent to the area to prevent casualties and to curb the spread of this disease.

A number of non-governmental health institutions have also started working to prevent casualties caused by this disease.

However, residents of the province have stated that there are no health centers in many remote areas in the province and asked government to establish mobile health centers in these areas.

Poor hygiene habits, hot weather and also the use of unsafe water are said to be the reasons for the spread of this disease.

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Work starts on new road to ease traffic in Kabul city

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(Last Updated On: August 7, 2022)

Kabul municipality officials said Saturday construction work on the new Wazir Akbar Khan to Sherpur road has started in order to reduce traffic congestion in the city center. 

Water culverts will also be included in the project that is being undertaken by the municipality’s Department of Work Maintenance and Monitoring of Kabul Municipality, Bakhtar reported.

The project, once completed, will cost 15 million Afghanis.

The new road will link Street 15 in Wazir Akbar Khan with Street 2 in Sherpur. Six properties along this section will be demolished to make way for the road.

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