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September 15, 2022 12:58 pm
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UAE Foreign Minister in Israel, American Jewish Committee in UAE for Abraham Accords Anniversary

avatar by Andrew Bernard

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid shakes hands with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan during their meeting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates June 29, 2021. Shlomi Amsalem/Government Press Office (GPO)/Handout via REUTERS.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrived in Israel on Thursday to mark the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords establishing relations between the UAE and Israel. It is his first bilateral visit to the country and his first visit to Jerusalem.

The world looks at the Abraham Accords with awe and respect and says there’s a new Middle East in many ways, being created and moving forward,” Israeli President Michael Herzog said of Sheikh Abdullah’s arrival.

As part of his visit, Sheikh Abdullah toured Yad Vashem, writing in the guestbook, “My presence here today reminds us of the lessons that history teaches us and the great responsibility we have to practice tolerance for the sake of building our communities and societies. We must take brave steps to build a bridge of real peace for future generations.”

Speaking to the press at a joint statement, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said, “My friend, together, we are changing the face of the Middle East. We are changing it from war to peace, from terrorism to economic cooperation, from a discourse of violence and extremism to a dialogue of tolerance and cultural curiosity. You may know that the Hebrew word ‘Shalom’ has two meanings – both hello and peace. So, I greet you with shalom, and I wish us all shalom: A blessing of peace. Welcome to Israel, my dear friend.”

During his remarks, Lapid also noted the drone and missile attack on the UAE in January that killed three people. While the attacks were carried out by Yemen’s Houthis, Lapid alluded to Iran’s responsibility without naming the country. “We know which country is behind these attacks. We know what needs to be done in response, and we know the right way to do it,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UAE this week welcomed a delegation of 80 representatives of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) to Abu Dhabi. To mark the anniversary of the accords, the delegation celebrated the March opening of AJC’s first permanent office in an Arab country, The Sidney Lerner Center for Arab-Jewish Understanding. During the trip, AJC honored the UAE’s President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan with its Architect of Peace Award.

“Without his vision, his courage, and his leadership there would be no Abraham Accords,” said Jason Isaacson, AJC’s Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer. Sheikh Abdullah, the Foreign Minister, accepted the award Tuesday on behalf of his brother, the President.

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