The Emirati and Bahraini ambassadors to the United States on Saturday night joined a virtual Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony hosted by Israel’s Embassy in Washington.
The event comes months after Israel established diplomatic ties with the two Gulf countries, in a deal brokered by the US.
“This year, I’m lighting the Hanukkah candles with you at the same time the Jewish community in the UAE are lighting their Hanukkah candles. Now that is peace,” said the UAE’s ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba. “Next year, let us hope we can celebrate this holiday together in person.”
Added Otaiba: “This year may look and feel a little different, as the Covid pandemic continues to impact our daily lives. But I’m still filled with hope. Hope that in 2021, will bring a brand new start for us.”
Happy Third Night of #Hanukkah!
2020 was a year of peace. With the #AbrahamAccords, ????????????????&???????? embarked on a journey towards a new Middle East. We are grateful to have the Amb. of Bahrain H.E. @AbdullaRAK & the Amb. of the UAE H.E. Yousef Al Otaiba join us to light the candles. pic.twitter.com/9YCJ9JzVeP
— Embassy of Israel (@IsraelinUSA) December 12, 2020
Bahrain’s Ambassador to the US Shaikh Abdulla bin Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa said: “In a time of hardship for us all, it was that flame of desire, that desire for peace, that prevailed.”
“This year, may the hope for peace that exists in each of us burn brightly enough to illuminate the desire in others. As on the menorah, let our one candle be surrounded by others, radiating the light of hope on whatever shadows are cast by those wishing to perpetuate darkness and fear,” he added.
Israel’s Ambassador Ron Dermer said both officials “played a critical role in forging that historic breakthrough,” referring to the normalization agreements that were signed at the White House in September.
Morocco on Thursday became the fourth Arab state this year, after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, to announce it had agreed to normalize relations with Israel. US President Donald Trump in turn fulfilled a decades-old goal of Morocco by backing its contested sovereignty in Western Sahara.
Agencies contributed to this report.