Israel and the United Arab Emirates are set to publicly announce a new cooperative effort against the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony for the Israel Air Force’s pilot course, Netanyahu said: “In a few moments, the health ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Israel will announce cooperation in fighting the coronavirus. This cooperation will be expressed in research and development [and] technology in areas that will improve health security throughout the region.”

Netanyahu said the agreement was “the result of extensive and intensive contacts in recent months and will bring a blessing to many in our region.”

In a speech that also focused on threats posed to Israel from Iran, Syria and Lebanon, he added: “The stronger we are, the more powerful we are — we deter our enemies and bring our friends closer.”

Several hours later, a spokesman for the UAE’s Foreign Ministry tweeted that “In light of strengthening international cooperation in the fields of research, development & technology in service of humanity, two private companies in UAE sign an agreement with two companies in Israel to develop research technology to fight COVID-19.”

The Emirati state news agency WAM confirmed the development, saying: “As a result of the pandemic’s spread worldwide, it is imperative to place the protection of humanity at the forefront of global action to overcome this unprecedented crisis.”

The names of the companies were not immediately revealed.

The Health Ministry said in a statement confirming the move that “scientific and medical cooperation bridges historical and political challenges in the region.”

“This collaboration will bring an improvement and strengthen the health of the region’s residents,” the Health Ministry said.

Channel 12 news reported that Mossad chief Yossi Cohen helped broker the new agreement. The report said the deal may include the opening of mutual missions in both countries.

It also said the plan was to start with cooperation on the virus and potentially expand to other areas later on.

Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi have no formal diplomatic ties, but have been coopering increasingly openly after years of rumored back-channel discussions between them over their mutual enmity of Iran.

Read more at Times of Israel

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