(September 15, 2022 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid met on Thursday with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is in the Jewish state to mark the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords.
The agreements, forged during the tenure of U.S. President Donald Trump, normalized relations between Jerusalem and a number of Arab countries.
Lapid and Sheikh Abdullah had a private discussion before holding an expanded meeting that was expected to focus on enhancing bilateral ties, as well as on Iran’s nuclear program.
“This is a historic visit of a regional leader that will advance the regional architecture we have been building this past year in the Middle East. This is a visit of a strategic partner that will strengthen economic and security ties between our countries. This is a visit of a close and dear friend, with whom I can talk about everything,” Lapid said during a joint press conference with Sheikh Abdullah.
“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,” the Israeli premier continued.
“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,” said Lapid.
Sheikh Abdullah was to attend a reception in the evening hosted by Abu Dhabi’s ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Al Khajah, which President Isaac Herzog was also expected to attend.
Earlier Thursday, Sheikh Abdullah toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum, where he laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance in honor of the six million Jews killed in the Nazi genocide.
“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,” Sheikh Abdullah wrote in the museum’s guestbook.
“We must take brave steps to build a bridge of real peace for future generations,” he added.
Prior to that, Herzog held an official luncheon for the UAE foreign minister at the President’s Residence.
The two men also met privately, with Sheikh Abdullah presenting Herzog with a letter from UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
“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,” said Herzog during the meeting, according to a statement from his office.
Sheikh Abdullah added: “This is historic, but I think in many ways this is a relationship which very few thought that in two years it would be as successful.”
He is also slated to meet with Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu during his current trip.
The UAE’s top diplomat visited Israel in March for the Negev Summit, along with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain and the United States.
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