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Today’s extraordinary diplomatic achievements were years in the making

Foreign Ministry emissaries have been quietly working behind the scenes in the Gulf with the singular goal of ensuring this peace will be a warm one
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L), Prime Minister Benjamin Netqanyahu (C) and UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al Tayer at Ben Gurion Airport, October 20, 2020 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L), Prime Minister Benjamin Netqanyahu (C) and UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al Tayer at Ben Gurion Airport, October 20, 2020 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

In the past two months, words like “historic,” “dramatic,” and “first-of-its-kind” have been repeatedly used in Israeli and international diplomacy arenas to describe what has unfolded between us, the UAE and Bahrain — so much so, that we have almost gotten used to it. And this is precisely what we must become accustomed to. Become accustomed to, but not minimize. Value, respect, and understand the gravity of this moment, as well as the weight of our duty to quickly bring relations with the Gulf states to life.

Tuesday, the first official delegation from the UAE landed at Ben-Gurion Airport, led by the ministers of finance and economy and accompanied by the US secretary of the Treasury. This followed a series of events that have taken place over the past several weeks: from the signing of the Abraham Accords in Washington; to the Israeli delegations to Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, where we were joined by our American partners; and finally, to the poignant visit of both the Israeli and Emirati foreign ministers, Gabi Ashkenazi and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, to the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

During Tuesday’s visit, a host of agreements were signed, and many more are set to follow. These were agreements between people, designed to allow us to live together, visit each other, do business together, and continue to move forward and progress. In a word, to change reality.

Today’s extraordinary achievements are the product of the important work of Israeli diplomacy. For more than two decades, we have been quietly operating behind the scenes in the Gulf states, aiming to prepare the ground for this very day. We’ve forged political and economic ties, and built bridges – including on social media – with the Gulf states.

Within this ongoing work lies an important part of the uniqueness of what is now unfolding before us. Long-standing and close acquaintanceship with one another is a recipe that will ensure mutual understanding and maturity. A recipe that will lead all parties to quickly agree on shared priorities, and on the ways to best implement them. On the opportunities and the challenges. We smile at the same things and are concerned about the same things.

Our new partners in the Emirates and Bahrain are talented and serious people, brave and honorable patriots. The State of Israel is a powerful and unique country in both its capabilities and its character. We know that our expectations of one another are high, and we are all fully committed to fulfilling them.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will soon open embassies in the countries party to the Abraham Accords. The new Israeli embassies in the Gulf, and the lucky Israeli diplomats who will serve there, will keep their sights on pursuing our interests by creating tangible achievements for the State of Israel to serve Israeli citizens and to ensure that this peace will be real, warm, palpable — and as immediate as possible.

The significance of the role that President Trump and the American administration played, and continue to play, in the accomplishments of the past two months cannot and should not be understated. It is a strategic alliance in the full sense of the word, and the United States has invested the full spectrum of its capabilities as a superpower in order to ensure greater things for Israel and its people. We extend our thanks.

About the Author
Alon Ushpiz is the Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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