More than 100 Arabs and Jews gathered Monday at the home of Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi to put religious coexistence on display on the final day of the Jewish festival of Sukkot.

The gathering was attended by former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, head of the Civil Administration of COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories), Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, diplomats from neighboring Arab nations, as well as dozens of local Arab leaders.

Many of the Arabs in attendance preferred not to be photographed or identified in the press. Publication of attendees at prior years’ gatherings led to interrogation and administrative detention by the Palestinian Authority.

However, the Arab leaders in attendance related stories of close friendships and cooperation with their Jewish neighbors.

“Not everybody understands the complexity of living in Judea and Samaria,” said Revivi. “Here, Jews and Arabs live together and work together, which provide the very foundations needed for peace.

“The area serves as a model for coexistence,” said Revivi.

Shai, the highest-ranking Israeli official to attend, said that the event highlights the fact that “Arabs and Jews must live together. There is no other alternative.”

He noted that “we have been living together for generations and we will live together for many years to come. This ‘Sukkah of Peace’ here in Efrat helps us to create a reality of peace.”

Friedman, who played a critical role in the establishment of the now one-year-old Abraham Accords between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, explained that the agreement was named after the Jewish prophet Abraham, who is also heralded as a prophet in the Islamic faith, because “it says he will be the father of many nations.”

He added that not only is it good to coexist, but it’s “a mitzvah for Jews and Arabs to be together. It is obligatory.”

At the event, Friedman was presented with an ancient map of Israel that was found in Jordan.


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