Egyptian TV airs Israeli FM’s speech on peace — on Yom Kippur War anniversary

While Gabi Ashkenazi and Emirati FM met in Berlin to strengthen accords, bolster Middle East peace efforts, their speeches aired on Egyptian TV, 47 years after regional conflict

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi's speech being shown on Extra News. (Screengrab: YouTube)
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi's speech being shown on Extra News. (Screengrab: YouTube)

An Egyptian television channel on Tuesday aired Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi’s remarks on regional peace, as he met in Berlin with his Emirati counterpart.

A spokesperson for Ashkenazi noted that the remarks were aired on Extra News on October 6, the 47th anniversary of the start of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, fought between Israel and its neighboring nations, including Egypt.

The spokesperson calls the broadcast “most extraordinary.”

Though the Egyptian government has close contacts with Israel, media in the country is known to generally be highly hostile toward the Jewish state.

In September, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi said that the Israel-United Arab Emirates normalization accord represents a step toward regional peace by preserving Palestinian rights and Israeli security.

The foreign ministers of the UAE and Israel met in Berlin on Tuesday for talks that Germany hoped will strengthen the nascent official ties between the two nations and bolster broader Middle East peace efforts, in a summit that German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said was a “great honor” to host.

Ashkenazi and Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan met, along with Maas, behind closed doors at a secluded government guesthouse on the outskirts of the German capital.

Ashkenazi and Al Nahyan also visited the Holocaust Memorial in central Berlin during their meeting in the German capital on Tuesday.

Ashkenazi said the visit was particularly moving for him “as a representative (of Israel), as a former general and as the son of a Holocaust survivor”.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, right, visits with his counterparts from Israel Gabi Ashkenazi, center, and the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, left, the exhibition hall at Holocaust Memorial during a meeting in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. (Michele Tantussi/Pool via AP)

“The three of us stood there silently together as we remembered the victims. And for the first time in history, a representative of an Arab state was present… Our presence together today symbolizes a new era — of peace, stability, prosperity and hope.”

Visibly relaxed, Ashkenazi and Al Nahyan shared a few words as they visited the monument’s underground museum and signed the visitors’ book. THe UAE minister wrote “never again,” in his message, adding that the site “showcases the values of coexistence and forgiveness … that my country was built on.”

Ashkenazi looked forward in his message, saying the meeting marked the start of “an era of peace between peoples.”

The Holocaust was also a reminder of the need “to live strong and ensure that this will never recur,” Ashkenazi also wrote in Hebrew.

In September, the UAE and Bahrain became the first Arab nations to establish relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. For the Mideast, the deals dubbed the Abraham Accords mark a distinct shift in a decades-old status quo where Arab countries have tried to maintain unity against Israel over its treatment of the stateless Palestinians.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, left, greets UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan as German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas looks on during a visit of the Holocaust memorial prior to their historic meeting in Berlin, on October 6, 2020. (MICHELE TANTUSSI / POOL / AFP)

Maas called the agreement between Israel and the UAE “the first good news in the Middle East for a long time — and a chance for new movement in the dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Ashkenazi also called upon the Palestinians to come back to the negotiating table.

“The longer we put off negotiations the more we are leaving behind a more difficult reality for the next generations,” he said.

AFP contributed to this report.

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