President Herzog calls for greater dialogue with Israel’s neighbors

Israeli President Isaac Herzog expressed hope that following the Abraham Accords, many more Middle Eastern nations will “emulate this path of dialogue and tolerance.”

 Israel's President Isaac Herzog is seen addressing the Jerusalem Post annual conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel's President Isaac Herzog is seen addressing the Jerusalem Post annual conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Israel’s hand is stretched out toward peace, ready to have a dialogue with any of its neighbors who wish to have one, President Isaac Herzog said Tuesday at the Jerusalem Post Conference.

The Abraham Accords, the peace and normalization agreements signed between Israel and three Arab countries starting a year ago, were “a remarkable breakthrough in the history of our region,” he said.

“[It was] a brave, noble choice by Arab nations, with the fine mediation of the United States, to cast aside a failed policy of exclusion, lack of dialogue and lack of tolerance, and instead embrace a future based on inclusion with an Israel that has always outstretched its hand in peace,” Herzog said.

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He expressed hope that many more Middle Eastern nations will “emulate this path of dialogue and tolerance.”

 The first ambassador of Bahrain to the State of Israel Khalid Yusuf Al-Jalahma with Israeli president Isaac Herzog during a ceremony for new ambassadors at the President's residence in Jerusalem, September 14, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) The first ambassador of Bahrain to the State of Israel Khalid Yusuf Al-Jalahma with Israeli president Isaac Herzog during a ceremony for new ambassadors at the President's residence in Jerusalem, September 14, 2021. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Herzog said he was proud to have received the credentials of the first Bahraini ambassador to Israel and inaugurate the Emirati Embassy in Tel Aviv during his first weeks in office this summer, as well as to have visited King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman and spoken with presidents Abdul Fatah al-Sisi of Egypt, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

“I am committed to fostering such dialogue and open lines of communication with world leaders on behalf of the nation of Israel,” he said. “I believe it is part of our duty to have a dialogue with anyone in the region who wishes or wants to have a dialogue with us.”

Speaking at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, Herzog made tolerance and dialogue the central themes of his speech, saying intolerance and lack of respectful communication have led to a crisis of liberal democracy within countries and a crisis of the liberal democratic world order.

“Tolerance must be a foundation of our society and will be a focal point of my term as president of Israel within Israeli society,” he said. “Without it, we must understand, the breakdown of dialogue is a threat, both internal and external, because it jeopardizes the institutions of liberal democracy and the mechanisms of a decent world order or social order.”

The Abraham Accords are an encouraging example of the positive impact of dialogue, Herzog said, while the Iranian threat is an example of the breakdown of dialogue.

“Here we see the world’s failure to act in concert to settle on a strategy to sever Iran’s tentacles in the Middle East, to restrain its ballistic-missile program and to shut down its nuclear program,” he said. “Iran is exploiting this inaction, this lack of coordination, [which is] a clear threat to international peace and security.”

Herzog also focused on climate change, calling on the world to work together to meet this challenge.

“I intend to push forcefully on this issue of the climate emergency,” he said.

Herzog expressed hope that at the global summit on climate change next month in Glasgow, Scotland, “dialogue, concern for our children’s future and concern for the world that we are blessed to live in together will prevail over short-term interests and impulses.”

Within Israel, Herzog said he sees his role as president as a bridge builder between the diverse parts of Israeli society and the Jewish world.

Watch the Jerusalem Post 10th Annual Conference video >>