Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu (Otzma Yehudit) on Thursday said he visited the United Arab Emirates last week, where he attended a series of meetings on the subject of the Abraham Accords.
“The Abraham Accords are based on a rich historical legacy,” he said upon his return to Israel. “Our forefather Abraham is also their forefather, and the UAE is proof of the Torah verse that states that Abraham will be a source of blessing to all nations.”
During the visit, the underlying values of the Abraham Accords were compared to those of the Oslo Accords, Eliyahu said.
“In one of our conversations, the host told me, ‘The Oslo Accords [that Israel] signed ignored the deep identity of the parties and tried to establish peace merely on the basis of material promises, and I tell you,’ he said confidently, ‘whoever believed this, did not understand the language of the Middle East at all,’” he said.
Israel and the UAE
“Over the years, we have become accustomed to thinking in terms of only mutual interests,” he added. “We will give them water, and in return, they will receive an agreement. We will give them the Sinai, and in exchange, they will give us a peace deal. But at the end of the day, peace in the Middle East will not grow on a shallow basis and will not come from elite cocktail parties.”
Eliyahu stressed the importance of healthy diplomacy based on identity and faith.
“The State of Israel needs to deepen its ties with the countries that have signed the Abraham Accords based on mutual understanding between the residents of the countries themselves, people to people, and not to rely only on the power of political leaders talking to each other,” he said. “Shared values will build deeper understanding and relationships and will allow us to truly work with a common goal.”
Eliyahu said he was impressed by the “real respect the Emiratis have for Judaism from the understanding that Jewish heritage is also their heritage.”
This respect was different from relations that Israel has with other Arab countries, he said.
“There’s a different tune here,” he added.
The UAE and Bahrain were the first nations to sign the Abraham Accords normalization agreement with Israel three years ago.
Since the signing of the accords, relations between Israel and the UAE have remained largely stable, even as reports in March said the latter was considering reducing its diplomatic ties with Israel over extreme positions of some members of the coalition. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the reports and said they had no basis.
Netanyahu plans to visit Dubai to attend the COP28 UN Climate Change Conference in December.