AGDA-AJC panel
Speakers during the panel discussion at the virtual session to mark one year of Abraham Accords. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy (AGDA) and American Jewish Committee (AJC) hosted a virtual session to mark the first anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords, as part of an educational cooperation that aims to explore the multidimensional components of emerging Emirati-Israeli relations.

During the one-hour session, the panelists emphasised that promoting people-to-people engagement and business cooperation are key to establishing comprehensive and enduring peace in the region. By building long-term relationships, based on mutual benefits and shared values, the Abraham Accords can create a brighter future for all peoples of the Middle East.

The collaboration between AGDA and AJC includes five webinars, where the two organisations aim to engage the next generation of American, Israeli and Emirati leaders in political, economic, scientific and diplomatic discussions about the future of Israeli-Arab engagement in the Middle East. The sessions will include conversations about innovation, young leadership, conflict resolution and food security.

Promoting robust UAE-Israel-United States engagement

Monday’s inaugural programme titled ‘The Abraham Accords and the Future of Emirati-Israeli-American Relations,’ highlighted the challenges and opportunities to expanding trilateral ties. The need to work on further measures to promote robust UAE-Israel-United States engagement in the Middle East, while maximising the accords’ benefits for the entire region, was the centrepiece of the speakers’ presentations and discussion.

Bernardino Leon, the Director-General of AGDA, moderated the discussion between Khalifa Shaheen Almarar, UAE Minister of State; Alon Ushpiz, Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Jason Isaacson, AJC Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer.

‘Dialogue and diplomacy’

The session was also attended by Shaima Gargash, Deputy Chief of the UAE Embassy in Washington, D.C, who said in her remarks: “The UAE joined the Abraham Accords as part of its renewed focus on de-escalation, dialogue and diplomacy to advance peace, prosperity and coexistence in the world’s most turbulent neighbourhood.”

Nickolay Mladenov, Research and Analysis Director at AGDA and former United Nations coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, also addressed the session. “The UAE and Israel, together with the United States of America, are making the first baby steps of what is going to be a wonderful relationship that will have historic significance for the whole region and the world,” he said.

Leon said: “This virtual session is hosted as part of ADGA’s sustained efforts to equip our current and future diplomats with insight on contemporary regional and international issues that impact the UAE’s policy agenda.”

‘Enhancing growth’

He added: “The Abraham Accords have brought together two of the world’s most dynamic and advanced countries, to collaborate on opportunities that help enhance growth across numerous fields in the region. Such a partnership allows them to push for deeper regional integration and extend the impact to other accord partners, especially now that the UAE and Israeli officials can use open and direct channels to address issues quickly.”

Almarar said: “The Abraham Accords with Israel were signed with the objective that diplomacy and improved communication would promote greater stability and prosperity and cooperation in our region. Today, one year later, those shared goals have been realised and we are building a brighter future together and expanding opportunities for our people.”

‘Economic cooperation’

“At the first anniversary of the Accords, we have achieved more than $675 million in bilateral trade between the UAE and Israel, hundreds of thousands of tourists and more than 58 agreements and MoUs [memorandum of understanding] in economic cooperation, health, water and food security, climate change, science and technology and energy,” he added.

“The peace Accords are the product of the bravery of Emirati, Bahraini, US and Israeli leaders who chose to bring a brighter future and prosperity to the citizens of the region. The peace agreements embody the paradigm shift in the entire Middle East. The cooperation between our countries will pave the way towards tangible achievements to the peoples and the region in economy, health, tourism, but also in stability and tranquillity,” stressed Ushpiz.

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‘A powerful new tool’

Isaacson said: “The Abraham Accords placed the Middle East on a new trajectory. While challenges to security and prosperity remain, the region has forged a powerful new tool to confront them — the tool of cooperation.”

AJC, the leading global Jewish advocacy organisation, has been visiting the region since 1994, and opened earlier this year AJC Abu Dhabi: The Sidney Lerner Center for Arab-Jewish Understanding. Ambassador Marc Sievers is the office’s inaugural Director.