Prime Minister Yair Lapid received Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan this evening in Jerusalem. The visit marks two years since the signing on the White House lawn of the Abraham Accords between Israel, the Emirates and Bahrain, under the auspices of then-US President Donald Trump.
Addressing the cameras, Lapid said, "This is the historic visit of a regional leader, a visit which will promote the regional architecture that we have been building over the past year in the Middle East. It is a visit of a close and dear friend with which we can talk about everything.
Turning to Bin Zayed, Lapid said, "My friend, we are changing the Middle East together. We are moving the region from war to peace, from terror to economic cooperation."
Lapid and Bin Zayed first met privately, followed by a larger meeting. Israel’s Energy Minister Karin Elharar, national security adviser Eyal Hulata, director of the prime minister’s office Naama Schultz, director of the Foreign Ministry Alon Ushpiz and other Israeli officials took part. The Emirati delegation included Emirati Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem Bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, Emirati Minister of Culture and Youth Noura bint Mohamed Al Kaabi as well as the Emirati ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Al Khaja.
According to Lapid’s office, the two leaders discussed strengthening relations between the two countries for the benefit of regional stability and continued joint economic development and cooperation in the fields of agriculture, energy, water and food security, emphasizing their mutual desire to enlarge these developing relations to include other countries in the region.
Lapid and Bin Zayed spoke about the continuation of the Negev Forum process, which was initiated by the Israeli premier last year and brought together Israel, the United States, the Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt. Both expressed their commitment to pursuing efforts to deepen relations between the participating countries.
The two leaders congratulated each other on the two-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords and on the fact that bilateral trade between Israel and the Emirates is expected to reach $2.5 billion by the end of 2022. This achievement, it was noted, is the result of hard work by both governments and the private sector.
Upon arrival to Israel, Bin Zayed was welcomed by President Isaac Herzog. At the start of their meeting, Herzog said, “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.”
Hosting Bin Zayed for lunch at the presidential residence, Herzog said, “We welcome you here with open arms and open hearts. We welcome you to our home as dreamers watch a dream come true. … This is a joyous celebration for all of us because it marks a paradigm change in the Middle East, of sounding new voices, of painting new horizons for our children and their future and a celebration of life and change.”
After the meeting, Herzog tweeted, “Today we welcome with open arms the Foreign Minister of the UAE, [His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed]. We are delighted to celebrate His Highness’s visit to Israel, two years after the signing of the historic Abraham Accords. The Abraham Accords are a joyous celebration of a paradigm shift in the Middle East, of new voices, of a new horizon for our children, of the potential for change. Our bold friendship shows the world that another, better, more humane world is possible. As-salamu alaykum!”
After his meeting with Herzog, Bin Zayed visited the Jerusalem Holocaust Remembrance Center Yad Vashem. “We must take the brave step of building a bridge of true peace for the coming generations,” Bin Zayed said there.