Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 October 2020

'A new era towards security and prosperity': UAE and Israeli foreign ministers meet in historic first

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said he and Gabi Ashkenazi discussed co-operation on energy and scientific research

The UAE hopes its burgeoning relationship with Israel will "strengthen international stability", Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, said on Tuesday.

Sheikh Abdullah was speaking alongside Israel's Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi after a meeting on Tuesday as the two countries begin to forge relations following the signing of the Abraham Accords.

"Our meeting today is filled with hope," he said, adding the pair had discussed co-operation in energy and scientific research.

Both ministers said the accord heralded a new era of stability in the Middle East.

Sheikh Abdullah said that "tolerance and pluralism" must be strengthened in the region.

"Dialogue with the UAE contributes to solving regional issues," Mr Ashkenazi said.

"The peace treaty signed also contributes towards the region's stability and challenges, most notably the coronavirus pandemic."

Sheikh Abdullah affirmed the UAE's support for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas hosted the first face-to-face talks between Sheikh Abdullah and Mr Ashkenazi since the accord was signed at an event hosted by US President Donald Trump on the White House lawn on September 15.

Under the agreement, the UAE and Israel, and Bahrain and Israel, began to normalise ties.

Earlier on Tuesday, the three foreign ministers visited the Holocaust Memorial in central Berlin.

Wearing masks in line with coronavirus guidance, they bumped elbows in greeting before taking a tour of the memorial.

Sheikh Abdullah left a long message in the visitor book at the site, including the words "never again", a phrase used to remember the holocaust and prevent such an atrocity happening again.

"This very important place immortalises the memory of the falling of a constellation of human beings who were victims of extremism and hatred," he wrote.

Sheikh Abdullah wrote that it "advocates and at the same time emphasises noble human values that call for co-existence, tolerance, empathy, acceptance of others, and respect of all religions and beliefs.

"My country has established these values that will always remain a main driving force for its development journey."

Mr Maas said before the visit: “It is a great honour that the Israeli and Emirati foreign ministers have chosen Berlin as the location for their historic first meeting.

"We are doing everything we can to be good hosts for the dialogue between the two countries on how to shape their future bilateral relations.”

The visit comes as part of Sheikh Abdullah's tour of European capitals. after visiting French and British officials in recent days.

The accords are the first between Arab states and Israel since 1994, when Jordan became the second state to make peace with Israel.

The only other state with official ties is Egypt, having signed another US-brokered peace agreement in 1979.

The latest move was hailed by international figures as a major step that could build momentum in the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process and promote regional harmony.

The UAE says the deal is contingent on Israel stopping annexation of lands in the Jordan Valley and West Bank, which are crucial to the viability of a future independent Palestinian state.

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said last week that the deal ended the “certainty” of annexation.

“I fully understand Palestinian concerns but on the other hand, I have personally focused on a very specific point, and that’s that the UAE and the US reached an understanding that was forced upon the Israeli side to suspend the annexation of Palestinian lands," Mr Aboul Gheit said.

– Additional reporting by agencies

Updated: October 7, 2020 04:34 PM

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