Jerusalem: Israeli research companies and private companies from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will work together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced.

The partnership comes less than a week before the earliest date for the government to possibly apply sovereignty in parts of the West Bank, and after UAE officials warned doing so will hurt steps towards normalization between the countries, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Speaking at an Israel Air Force pilots’ course graduation ceremony on Thursday, Netanyahu said: “This cooperation will be in research and technology development, in areas that will improve the health security of the entire region.”

Netanyahu said the partnership is a result of continued, intensive negotiations in recent months.

“This will bring a blessing to many in our region,” he added.

Newly-appointed Director-General of the Health Ministry Chezy Levy said of the decision that “this scientific and medical cooperation bridges historic political challenges in the region through the reality of the human priority to find a solution to the coronavirus”.

In a report last month, The Jerusalem Post said that three Gulf States had expressed interest in cooperating with Israel on combating the coronavirus pandemic.

Bahrain and another Gulf state reached out to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, expressing interest in the hospital’s response to the pandemic.

In addition, UAE Ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh said in a webinar that Israeli scientific research on treatment for COVID-19 is “very exciting” and said there is “potentially room for cooperation here”. (IANS)

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