UAE Ambassador says Abraham Accords will fundamentally change the Middle East

October 13, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Arab Emirates to Australia Abdulla Al Subousi has spoken to an Australia Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) webinar.

Ambassador Abdulla Al Subousi

This was the first time the Ambassador had spoken to a local Jewish audience. The address was a local manifestation of the significance of the Abraham Accords signed recently in Washington between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain.

Ambassador Al Subousi began by stating that it was an honour for him to address AIJAC and that the support of the Israeli Embassy was “much appreciated”. He said there was no doubt about the importance of the Abraham Accords, and that while he used to joke that it would take an alien invasion to bring the Middle East together, the Accords show that anything can happen with the right leadership.

He added, “There is no doubt that the peace deal will fundamentally change both the UAE and Israel relations, as well as the entire Middle East for the better, I’m sure. It brings a new day where old and outdated antagonisms are swept aside in favour of peace and friendship. The deal will lead to a new era of educational, cultural and personal ties, such as these ones, that will deeply enrich our peoples and lives.”

He also spoke about tolerance and interfaith understanding, topics he said were close to his heart, “The UAE has announced the Abrahamic Family House, an initiative that aims to end the use of religion as a justification of war, violence and harm, and opposes extremism in all its forms.”

He explained that the complex, inspired by the visit of Pope Francis to the UAE, would include a church, a mosque and a synagogue – representing the three religions that trace their origins back to Abraham –  all equal, and each joined to the other two by a courtyard, as well as a secular welcome centre. It is a practical example of interfaith dialogue that will result in positive interaction between peoples and nations, he said.

The Ambassador explained that the UAE was built on religious tolerance as it welcomed people from all over the world to build the nation. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE, believed a true Muslim is a friend to all others. He continued, “The mission of the Abrahamic Family House will be to enhance understanding about all faiths and nationalities and reflects the UAE’s firm belief that faith, understanding and tolerance is a core element of global and regional stability… We can all see from this the seeds that led to the Israeli-UAE peace deal. This deal is a prime reflection of our belief in tolerance, the acceptance of differences and the desire of peaceful co-existence.”

He described the Abraham Accords as an opportunity to seize the region’s potential, saying the two nations look forward to strengthened cooperation in many areas including health, technology, energy, tourism and education, noting they were already collaborating on combatting COVID-19. “Working groups are making progress on a range of bilateral cooperative initiatives across key sectors,” he said, and added he is “astonished” at how fast they are moving forward, saying the possibilities are limitless.

He added that there are lots of possibilities for trilateral co-operation between Israel, the UAE and Australia, in areas such as food, water, security, agriculture and science and technology.

Ambassador Al Subousi also said he believes there is an important role for Australia in the region, mentioning our history of contributing to security there, and that Australia is well-regarded internationally. It is important, he said, that the deal is supported and that it would send the wrong message just to be neutral about it, so he hopes all countries send a clear and continuous message of support.

He stated that establishing relations with Israel “would benefit not only our two countries but also the larger region… our ambition is a more peaceful, tolerant and prosperous Middle East. We wish to see a two-state solution for the Palestinian people and a long term reduction in the cycle of violence and suffering. We think we have the means to make that happen, and we think this Accord is a major step to all of these aims.”

He noted that there is already a vibrant Jewish community in the UAE, with a Chief Rabbi, and that community will serve as an important link in connecting the UAE, with the broader Jewish community, including Israel.

The Ambassador also said he believes there is also plenty of opportunity for the UAE, as a country based on tolerance and diversity, and Australia together to play a role in encouraging tolerance and inclusivity internationally.

He also mentioned some of the actors that he alleged have been having a disruptive impact.

Turkey, he said, continues to play a destructive role in the region, “especially in its attempts to undermine the security and stability of Libya.” He said its maritime activity is a clear breach of international law. He added that Turkey’s criticism of the Accords is unfounded, given that it has full relations and trade with Israel.

As for Iran, “The UAE remains deeply concerned with the Iranian continued non-compliance with the limits established by the JCPOA [nuclear deal]. Moreover, the UAE is aware of the upcoming expiry of the UN arms embargo on Iran under United Nations Security Council resolution 2231. Iran must address concerns regarding its behaviour and become a responsible regional actor. The potential pursuit of nuclear weapons is not acceptable and remains a red line in our region. The international community must remain engaged on these issues, to encourage respect for and the compliance with international law and resolutions intended to foster stability and peace in the region and the world.”

He added that the Accords are not directed at Iran, and it’s up to Iran to decide how to engage, but the region will be more stable, with less chance of miscalculation, if everyone engages.

He said he hopes the Accords can inspire Muslims around the world who believe in inclusivity to be more active and vocal, but they need to be educated and given the tools to spread tolerance and to challenge the intolerant, who are making use of both the media and social media. The more people of different faiths meet each other and develop personal links, the better things will be and the more empowered the tolerant will be, he said.

AIJAC

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