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Telephone service begins between UAE and Israel amid deal

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.

Officials in Israel and the UAE did not immediately acknowledge the lines had begun working. They declined to immediately answer questions from the AP.

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.

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.

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 are 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.

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.

Associated Press writer Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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