Washington signings: Community responds

September 16, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Australian and New Zealand communities have responded to the agreements signed in Washington between Israel and both the UAE and Bahrain.

U.S. President Donald Trump, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Foreign Affairs for the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyani sign the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 15, 2020. Credit: Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

The Zionist Federation of Australia warmly welcomes the signing of an Israel–UAE treaty and a Bahrain–Israel normalisation agreement and congratulates the leaders of all three countries.

Zionist Federation of Australia President Jeremy Leibler said, “From its very establishment, the State of Israel has sought peace with its neighbours. When Ben Gurion declared Israel’s independence in 1948, he said, ‘We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness’. This offer of peace never wavered even though, over 72 years, Israel had to overcome a legion of challenges as it maintained its right to exist as a Jewish state in the Land of Israel.”

Mr Leibler continued, “These are truly historic times, and we congratulate the leaders of Israel and especially of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, for taking these courageous steps that further the interests of peace and of the future prosperity of their people.”

The sight of an Israeli leader, together with leaders from so many Arab countries together, smiling, with a shared vision and shared commitment to mutual peace and prosperity is one that the Australian Jewish community – indeed, Jews across the world – have hoped to see for decades.

As Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the signing ceremony, for thousands of years, the Jewish people have prayed for peace. For decades, the Jewish state has prayed for peace.

The agreements signed today are not merely evidence of a growing pragmatism in the Arab Middle East, but proof that Israel is being welcomed as a valued member of the region. These agreements include articles on commerce, the opening of embassies, cultural exchanges, direct flights, and cooperation on health and security. They are not agreements for a ‘cold peace’, but the sign of warming relations.

Neither Israel nor its new Arab partners are ignoring the need to find a viable, negotiated outcome to the Israeli–Palestinian dispute. Indeed, just as Egypt has become a key mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, because of its presence in Israel, so too will the UAE. Its leaders have called on Palestinians to resume negotiations with Israel, as does the leadership of the ZFA.”


The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) today hailed the signing of the Abraham Accords.

Signed by President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and Bahrain Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullatif Al-Zayani, the Accords provide the basis for full diplomatic, economic and other ties between Israel and the two Gulf states.

AIJAC National Chairman Mark Leibler said, “History was made overnight in Washington, thanks to the vision, courage and dedication of President Trump and his team, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and UAE and Bahraini leaders. As Netanyahu said, these agreements have the potential to be ‘a pivot of history,’ transforming the Middle East in a more peaceful direction and enhancing the security of both Israel and its Gulf state partners.”

AIJAC executive director Dr Colin Rubenstein added, “There is every reason to hope these deals, and the new regional alignment they herald, will empower the Western-leaning Sunni Arab grouping in the Middle East through more open ties with Israel – boosting stability, expanding cooperation on defence and intelligence, trade, investment and joint technological development, and the potential for increased cross-cultural dialogue. Meanwhile, the rejectionist forces determined to destabilise the region – especially Iran and its allies – should find themselves weakened and contained.”

“AIJAC also strong condemns the rocket fire from Gaza timed to coincide with the ceremony, injuring several Israelis in Ashdod. This was yet another sign of how the forces of rejection continue to threaten hopes for a more peaceful and prosperous life for all residents of the region,” Dr. Rubenstein concluded.

Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the ADC, stated: “Today, a long-sought dream became a reality.

These Abraham Accords signal a breathtakingly promising new era in the Middle-east and are a powerful reminder that peace will always prevail over the forces of rejectionism who wish to sow discord and destruction. We hope that the forging of these historic agreements will convince other Arab and Muslim nations, as well as the Palestinians, to sit at the negotiations table and to give engagement
and co-existence a chance.

The ADC applauds the visionary courage shown the leaders of Israel, the UAE and Bahrain for cementing security, prosperity, opportunities and cooperation for their people. We also commend the enormously positive role the United States has played in brokering this deal and in promoting the cause of global reconciliation and peace.”

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry warmly congratulated the United States and the parties to the agreements for their successful diplomatic efforts and for navigating a path towards peace and prosperity.

The signing of the Abraham Accord between the State of Israel and the United Arab Emirates at the White House on Tuesday, and the announcement that the Kingdom of Bahrain will also establish a formal state of peace and mutual recognition with Israel are historic events both for the State of Israel and the Jewish people. They are a victory for peace and diplomacy that continue the realisation of the Zionist vision of a Jewish State living in peace and harmony with its neighbours.

These agreements promise a future of fraternity, partnership and stability for the peoples of the region and signal the beginning of the end for the old tactics of anti-normalisation and boycott which were founded in racial hatred, fear and intolerance.

As we have seen following the UAE announcement, now that a state of peace has been declared between Israel and Bahrain, there will be rapid and extensive engagement between the nations including trade delegations, journalist missions, scholarly, scientific and cultural exchanges, and perhaps the scheduling of direct flights, all of which will serve to deepen understanding and ensure that peace becomes not only a declaration by leaders but a lived reality for Jews and Arabs.

ARZA, the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors of Australia, New Zealand and Asia, Netzer and the Union for Progressive Judaism stated:
“The Australian Reform/Progressive Zionist Association (ARZA), the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors of Australia, New Zealand and Asia (ARC), Netzer Australia, and the Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ) join in welcoming a further historic announcement of the normalisation of relations between Israel and Bahrain following the recent normalisation agreement with the United Arab Emirates.
This additional significant agreement is the culmination of continuing efforts by Israel, the United States and other countries to bring peace, security and economic stability to the Middle East through the normalisation of relations between Israel and the Arab States.
It is hoped that even more Arab States will join with Israel, the UAE and Bahrain in this quest for peace and stability.”
President of the Zionist Federation of New Zealand Robert Berg commented:It is an incredible moment and leap forward for peace in the Middle East and closer ties between to Muslims and Jews. It is truly historic and a credit to all those involved to take this brave step. As Jews, praying for ‘peace’ is central to our daily prayers. It therefore seems fitting that as we approach Rosh Hashanah that peace between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, along with the existing peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, has been announced and signed. May the end of 5780 signal the start of something many of us only dreamed about continuing well into 5781 and beyond. 

In the meantime, Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne stated: “Australia warmly welcomes the announcement of normalised relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, and Bahrain and Israel.The Middle East is a region that has suffered too much and for too long from conflict and terrorism. These steps of normalisation pave the way for enduring peace, and greater dialogue, cooperation, and economic opportunities. These announcements set an example of the power of negotiated outcomes.

Australia strongly supports these initiatives. Australia welcomes the role played by all parties, including the United States, and their determination to take steps towards a more stable and secure region. Australia is committed to Israel’s right to live in peace and security with its neighbours.

We also welcome Israel’s commitment to suspend plans for West Bank annexations. Australia strongly supports a two-state solution to the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel, in which Israel and a future Palestinian state co-exist, in peace and security, within internationally recognised borders. Australia encourages both sides to return to direct negotiations in good faith.”

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