Making peace and winning the war against COVID-19

September 24, 2020 by Dr Itzhak Gerberg
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The peace agreement between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain represents a meaningful landmark that brings together some of the most prominent states in the Middle East.

Ambassador Dr Itzhak Gerberg in his Wellington office

Combining forces and finding common ground has never been more urgent than now, in the midst of a global pandemic, the Abraham Accords is set to generate immediate results.

This is a historic diplomatic breakthrough that will advance peace in the Middle East and unlock the great potential in the region. Moreover, the Health Ministers of both Israel and the UAE, having already agreed to cooperate on healthcare issues, particularly coronavirus, as well as to set up business delegations and a student exchange program.

In the first commercial agreement after Israel and the UAE announced the normalization of relations, an Emirati investment firm and Israeli tech company signed an agreement to jointly research and develop a coronavirus testing device that will diagnose the disease more quickly and precisely. The two countries have also committed to work together on medical research and pharmaceuticals, collaborating particularly in the development of treatments and vaccine trials for COVID-19. The same Emirati investment firm has further signed a memorandum of understanding with a leading Israeli hospital, setting up Israel as a new major destination for medical tourism from the UAE. Both countries have suffered from the ongoing coronavirus crisis, and it is therefore fitting that the first held cooperation be in healthcare.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates are both young countries that have managed to develop dynamic and thriving economies in just a few decades. Both are at the cutting-edge of innovation and technology and share in the same entrepreneurial spirit, and both will gain from the expansion of trade and commercial ties. The fields of cybersecurity, energy, medicine, finance, communications, and agriculture are just some of the sectors expected to benefit in particular from the newfound expansion of trade and investment between Israel and the UAE.

The citizens of all three countries will undoubtedly see their lives enriched as a result of this agreement, paving the way for increasingly more countries in the region to realize the vast potential that exists in making peace with Israel. The United States remains a central player in the region and a true ally of all sides and played a key role in brokering this Accord.

The challenges we are facing today know no boundaries, and it is essential that we combine our capabilities for the benefit of the region. We call on all those following this historic moment to voice their support for the agreement.

Dr Itzhak Gerberg serves as the Ambassador of Israel to New Zealand, and Non-Resident to Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga.

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