United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Yad Vashem on Thursday — a first visit by the top Emirati diplomat to Israel’s national Holocaust memorial.
The visit came as Israel and its regional allies marked two years since the signing of the Abraham Accords, the US-brokered agreement that normalized ties between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain. Morocco followed suit and normalized relations with Israel soon after.
After touring the Jerusalem Holocaust museum, bin Zayed laid a wreath at Yad Vashem’s Hall of Remembrance.
“I am here today to remind ourselves of the lessons that history teaches us and the great responsibility upon us to act with tolerance for building our community and society,” he wrote in the guestbook. “We must take the brave step of building a bridge of true peace for the coming generations.”
Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan called the visit “a momentous occasion.”
“Visiting Yad Vashem sends the message that regardless of background, religion or race, we all have the duty to learn about the Holocaust and combat antisemitism,” Dayan said.
After visiting Yad Vashem, bin Zayed was hosted by Prime Minister Yair Lapid for a meeting at the premier’s office in Jerusalem.
“Welcome to Jerusalem,” Lapid said. “My friend, your historic visit here today marks another milestone in our nations’ friendship.”
“Together, we’re building a brighter future for all the people of our region,” Lapid said.
אירחתי היום את שר החוץ של איחוד האמירויות שייח' עבדאללה בן זאיד @ABZayed, במשרד ראש הממשלה בירושלים. אנחנו משנים יחד את המזרח התיכון. אנחנו מעבירים אותו מן המלחמה אל השלום. מן הטרור אל שיתופי הפעולה הכלכליים. משיח של אלימות וקנאות, לדיאלוג של סובלנות וסקרנות תרבותית. ???????????????? pic.twitter.com/NSyw7YyyaK
— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) September 15, 2022
Earlier Thursday, President Isaac Herzog hosted an official luncheon to welcome bin Zayed to Jerusalem.
“We welcome you here with open arms and open hearts,” said Herzog at the President’s Residence. “We welcome you to our home as dreamers watch a dream come true.”
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) September 15, 2022
Herzog called the normalization agreements “a paradigm change in the Middle East, of sounding new voices, of painting new horizons for our children and their future and a celebration of life and change.”
Bin Zayed, visiting Jerusalem for the first time, called it “a privilege and an honor” to be in Israel and to be hosted by the president and first lady.
Today we welcome with open arms the Foreign Minister of the UAE, HH Sheikh @ABZayed. We are delighted to celebrate His Highness's visit to Israel, two years after the signing of the historic Abraham Accords. ???????????????? pic.twitter.com/47ZRMbOnjj
— יצחק הרצוג Isaac Herzog (@Isaac_Herzog) September 15, 2022
The top Emirati diplomat’s delegation included UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al Khaja.
Bin Zayed also signed the president’s official guestbook and presented Herzog with a letter from UAE leader Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, commonly known as MBZ.
Ties between Israel and the UAE have flourished since the signing of the Abraham Accords, with thousands of Israeli tourists visiting the Gulf state, and the countries exchanging diplomatic and security support. Trade between the UAE and Israel is expected to reach more than $2 billion in 2022, well up from the $1.2 billion in bilateral trade last year.