Photo Credit: MFA
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at the new Israeli embassy in the UAE. June 29, 2021

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid travelled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Tuesday, his first official visit abroad and the first visit by an Israeli foreign minister to the Gulf country.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrives in the UAE for the first official state visit. June 29, 2021

Lapid is the guest of Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

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In addition, Lapid inaugurated the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi and will inaugurate the Consulate General of Israel in Dubai.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Emirati Minister of Culture and Youth, Nora al-Kaabi. June 29, 2021

“This is a historic moment and it is a reminder that history is created by people, people who understand history but are willing to change it, people who prefer the future to the past,” Lapid declared at the Embassy opening ceremony in Abu Dhabi, with the Emirati Minister of Culture and Youth Nora al-Kaabi, during which a Mezuza was affixed to the door.

“We are standing here today because we chose peace over war, cooperation over conflict, the good of our children over the bad memories of the past, the right to determine our fate by ourselves,” he said.

“What we are doing here today is not the end of the road, it’s the beginning. From here, from this place, we are setting out on the road,” he added.

He emphasized that “Israel wants peace with all its neighbors. We are not going anywhere. The Middle East is our home. We are here to stay,” calling on “all the countries of the region to recognize that, and to come talk to us.”

Lapid thanked Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed and Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed for “their vision and inspiration, and for bringing us to this moment.”

He also thanked former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who “was the architect of the Abraham Accords and who worked tirelessly to bring them about. This moment is his, no less than it is ours.”

The UAE and Bahrain signed a historic peace agreement with Israel at the White House on September 15, 2020, the first agreement to be signed between Israel and an Arab country in 25 years.

The UAE was the first major Arab state to recognize Israel since the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty was signed in October 1994.

Announced on August 13, the Abraham Accords is the first between a Gulf state and Israel and is expected to lead to similar agreements with other Arab countries, possibly Oman or Saudi Arabia.

Israel and Sudan announced the normalization of ties in October 2020. Morocco joined the Abraham Accords in December.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.