Video: Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed receives US award for Israel peace deal

In a rare video interview released on Friday, Sheikh Mohamed discussed with Dr Satloff the “big decision” for making peace with Israel.


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Fri 19 Nov 2021, 6:21 PM

Last updated: Fri 19 Nov 2021, 7:16 PM

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Scholar-Statesman Award for his leadership in establishing peace between the UAE and Israel, and his commitment to religious tolerance.

The award ceremony was held at in New York City on Thursday. The institute, in a statement, said that “urgent affairs of the state” prevented Sheikh Mohamed from travelling to the US for the event. So, the institute’s executive director Dr Robert Satloff presented the award to Sheikh Mohamed at a special ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi last month.

Dr Satloff said the institute recognised the bold leadership for “full peace” with Israel through the Abraham Accords and expanding religious tolerance through the Abrahamic Family House interfaith place of worship.

In a rare video interview filmed following the award presentation and released on YouTube on Friday, Sheikh Mohamed discussed with Dr Satloff the “big decision” for making peace with Israel.

“We saw this as a unique opportunity. We decided that there would be a diplomatic relationship. For us, this is an important decision for many reasons. First, for the Palestinians themselves. Second, to send a clear message to the world and the region that we are striving for peace. Third, it is a mission that we have inherited from our founder, the late Sheikh Zayed, God rest his soul. He was a man of peace and compassion, since the days of the UAE’s inception. That is his vision, and we are committed to this path,” Sheikh Mohamed said.

Asked if Sheikh Mohamed assessed the risks involved in such a decision, he said: “Every decision has risks, undoubtedly. We are also living in a complex region. But the rewards are an incentive, and the outcomes we will achieve together are far greater than the drawbacks. When we decided on this step, we were looking forward to a level of cooperation that goes beyond just peace itself. The UAE aspires to a greater peace, one that is for the benefit of all.”

Meanwhile, UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba, a key architect of the Accords, represented Sheikh Mohamed at the event and participated in a discussion of current Middle East affairs with Dr Satloff.

Separately, Israeli President Isaac Herzog, in a video message, congratulated Sheikh Mohamed and hailed him as a “peacemaker”. “Mabrouk and Mazal Tov. The Abraham Accords and the steps taken by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed to welcome members of all Abrahamic faiths to the UAE represent a historic turning point for our region, one which will lead to a brighter and more peaceful future, for all nations and peoples of the Middle East. It is a complete sea change, and I commend and congratulate all those who took part in bringing through the Abraham Accords.”

Herzog noted that generations will look back at Sheikh Mohamed’s decision as a key milestone in advancing the shared vision of transforming the region into a hub of innovation, a haven of stability, and a home of religious tolerance.

“I look forward to working closely together, to go from normalised relations, to relations that are truly extraordinary. When I see the warm welcome that hundreds of thousands of Israelis have received in the UAE, the growing Emirati-Jewish community, and our flourishing bilateral ties in areas from artificial intelligence to food security, from culture to sports, even to exploring outer space. I know that we are on the right track,” Herzog added.

Previous recipients of the award include Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Israel’s former president Reuven Rivlin, former US president Bill Clinton, former UK prime minister Tony Blair, former US secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice, Henry Kissinger and George Shultz.

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