UAE Minister: Deepening Israeli-Arab Relationships Is the Way to Counter Hate, Incitement and Terror

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his Emirati counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan arrive for the two-day Negev Summit. (Photo by Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his Emirati counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan arrive for the two-day Negev Summit. (Photo by Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – As an unprecedented meeting of the top diplomats of Israel, the United States, and four Arab nations ended on Monday, the UAE’s foreign minister spoke of how the normalization accords have sparked a deep desire among Arabs and Israelis to learn more about each other.

And, alluding to the killing of two young Israeli police officers in a terror attack as the summit began, Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that deepening relationships between Arabs and Israelis was “the way we can go after the narrative of hate, of incitement, of terror.”

Zayed was speaking alongside his Israeli, U.S., Bahraini, Moroccan, and Egyptian counterparts at the end of the two-day summit in Israel’s Negev desert, an event which Israel says will become an annual one.

 

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the “Negev Summit” marked the creation of a “new regional architecture” of progress and cooperation in the face of “our common enemies, first and foremost Iran and its proxies.”

“What we are doing here is making history, building a new regional architecture based on progress, technology, religious tolerance, security, and intelligence cooperation,” he said.

“This new architecture, the shared capabilities we are building, intimidates and deters our common enemies, first and foremost Iran and its proxies,” Lapid said. “They certainly have something to fear.  What will stop them is not hesitation or being conciliatory, but rather determination and strength.”

Israeli police officers Yazan Falah and Shirel Aboukrat, both 19, in a photo taken hours before they were shot dead by terrorists on Sunday. (Photo: Israel Police)

Israeli police officers Yazan Falah and Shirel Aboukrat, both 19, in a photo taken hours before they were shot dead by terrorists on Sunday. (Photo: Israel Police)

The meeting in Sde Boker, the kibbutz where Israel’s founding father David Ben Gurion lived for the latter decades of his life and is buried, brought Israel and the U.S. together with three of the Arab nations that concluded normalization agreements with Israel in the Trump administration’s “Abraham Accords” initiative. Joining them was the foreign minister of Egypt, which in 1979 became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel.

As the event began on Sunday evening, news broke that gunmen had opened fire at a bus stop in the northern town of Hadera, killing two 19-year-old police officers, Arab citizens of Israel, and wounding 12 other people.

The attack was claimed by ISIS and praised by the Iranian-backed Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist groups, with the latter calling it “a response in the name of all the Palestinian people and all the free people of the Arab and Islamic nation to the summit of evil” in the Negev.

“The terrorists’ goal is to intimidate us, to make us afraid to meet and to build relationships and the agreements between us,” Lapid said. “They will not succeed; we will not let them.”

“What we are doing here,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “is the exact counterpoint to this senseless destruction and violence.”

Joining his colleagues in extending condolences to the victims and their loved ones, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita agreed: “Our presence today is, I think, the best response to such attacks.”

In his remarks at the summit’s close, Zayed noted that it was the first visit to Israel for him and his Bahrani and Moroccan counterparts.

“This is our first time. So if we are curious sometimes and we want to know things and learn, it’s because although Israel has been part of this region for a very long time and – we’ve not known each other. So it’s time to catch up.”

He said 300,000 Israelis had visited the UAE in the last year and a half, while two million people had visited the Israeli pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai, which opened last October and ends this week.

That shows “how curious, and how much we want to know each other,” Zayed said.

“And this is what I think goes against what happened yesterday (in Hadera). It’s by us standing together, it’s by our people-to-people relationship, it’s by creating a better environment for our businesses to work with each other – that’s the way we can go after the narrative of hate, of incitement, of terror.”

“We will prevail, no doubt.  It’s going to cost us, but it matters.”

Blinken recalled some of the historic interactions that the region has witnessed since the normalization agreements were concluded in 2020.

“The Abraham Accords are making the lives of people across your countries more peaceful, more prosperous, more vibrant, more integrated,” he said. “They’re allowing governments to focus their energies and attentions on the issues that are actually affecting the lives of our citizens and making them better.”

Blinken pledged that the U.S. would continue to support the process and “help to strengthen the bonds between Israel and its circle of friends, both those with which it has normalization agreements and those with which it has longstanding peace treaties, like Egypt and Jordan.”

“So I commend the courage of those willing to break down barriers, political leaders but also people across our societies, individual citizens who are forging new relationships as a result of this historic opening,” he said. “I am excited to see all that you and we can imagine and create together for one another, for the region, for the world.”

 

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