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Netanyahu congratulates ‘our new friends’ in the UAE on their National Day

‘When the UAE succeeds, Israel succeeds. And when Israel succeeds, the UAE succeeds,’ PM says in video; Emirati news agency calls peace treaty the ‘major political event of 2020’

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) claps during a ceremony welcoming passengers on a flight operated by budget airline flydubai to Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv, on November 26, 2020. (Emil Salman/Pool/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) claps during a ceremony welcoming passengers on a flight operated by budget airline flydubai to Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv, on November 26, 2020. (Emil Salman/Pool/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday congratulated the leaders and citizens of the United Arab Emirates on their 49th National Day, saying the recent normalization agreement was strengthening both states and may serve as an example for other countries in the nations.

“I want to wish His Highness, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, and all the citizens of the United Arab Emirates, our new friends, a very joyous National Day,” he said in a short video posted to his social media account.

“Since the signing of the historic peace treaty between us, Israel-UAE relations have been moving ahead rapidly, quicker than we anticipated — in fact, at breakneck speed,” he said.

“We are cooperating in so many fields: in science and technology, in commerce and investments, in healthcare and education, in transportation and tourism. In these and so many other areas, our partnership is bringing tangible benefits to both our peoples.”

Netanyahu went on: “The fruits of peace are at hand. So, when the UAE succeeds, Israel succeeds. And when Israel succeeds, the UAE succeeds.”

In the one-minute statement, filmed in his Jerusalem office, he also expressed hope for the new Israeli-Emirati partnership to serve as “an example to all nations of the Middle East.”

“Together we are building a better future for our two countries, for the region and for the world.” he concluded.

The UAE’s National Day celebrates the December 2, 1971, signing of a treaty marking the founding of a federation of six emirates into one sovereign state (the seventh emirate joined a few months later).

Netanyahu had been planning to visit the UAE and Bahrain, another Gulf country that normalized relations with Israel this summer, this week, but the trip was postponed, apparently to late December, because of National Day celebrations.

Reflecting on the past year, the UAE government highlighted the signing of the so-called Abraham Accords with Israel as a major foreign policy achievement.

The agreement, signed on September 15 in Washington, signaled “a new page in the relations between the two countries and promoting concerted efforts to enhance stability and security in our region,” the Foreign Ministry in Abu Dhabi said in a statement issued Wednesday.

“The Agreement is a historic achievement for the UAE, Israel and the US and creates immediate and meaningful security, economic, and social benefits,” the statement went on.

US President Donald Trump, center, with from left, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, during the Abraham Accords signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, September 15, 2020, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP)

“Indeed, the UAE and Israel are already collaborating closely to expand and intensify research and treatment on the coronavirus, and working groups are making progress on a range of bilateral cooperative initiatives across key sectors. These sectors include logistics, air links, tourism, cultural exchange, education, medical, scientific research, and telecommunications.”

On Monday, the Emirati state-owned WAM news agency went as far as calling the agreement with Israel “the major political event of 2020, as the diplomatic breakthrough achieved by the UAE through the accord is an opportunity to achieve prosperity for the region and the entire world, despite the difficult times witnessed by humanity.”

There is global consensus that the peace treaty “reflects the UAE’s message of peace and tolerance, and its sovereign decision to realise its own view of the future, disengaged from the discourse of conflict and hostility,” the report went on.

“Most importantly, the accord will serve the Palestinian cause, protect the rights of Palestinian people, and stop Israel’s annexation of Palestinian lands,” it said.

The UAE agreed to normalize relations with Israel on condition Netanyahu suspended his plan to unilaterally annex large parts of the West Bank.

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