At the outset, I applaud the peace agreement signed between Israel and the UAE, as I have previously done many times. This agreement was signed between two courageous leaders, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who put the interests of their countries before everything else, on the path to a safer and better Middle East.
Israel and the UAE have never been enemies. Over the past years, our two countries even had a measure of diplomatic and trade relations, but we have now entered a new era of official and warm ties of peace. A year ago, the idea of Israelis going to Dubai for a vacation, or Emirati businesspeople investing in the Israeli hi-tech or a football team, was a distant dream. But this dream of the past is the reality of today.
The Accords, which were announced in August 2020 and signed a month later at the White House, are the basis for developing ties and collaborations in many fields - security, economy, technology, energy and others. The UAE, like Israel, is a militarily and economically strong country that wishes to advance in all areas of life and in the past few years has produced remarkable achievements. This was the result of long-term work plans, an impressive utilisation of resources, seeking help from top-tier experts from around the world and mostly, plenty of hard work.
In the field of defense, the UAE is a regional power, which is facing similar challenges to those faced by Israel. First and foremost, Iran, which is spreading terror across the Middle East and striving to achieve military nuclear capabilities that will threaten the entire world.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared time and again that Israel will never allow Iran to have nuclear weapons, and as the Minister of Intelligence of Israel, I can assure you that we are doing everything in our power to make sure that this indeed never happens. Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi are also both concerned about the threat of Islamic terrorism perpetrated by certain organisations, and by the dangerous behaviour of the countries in the region that support them. These common threats can serve as fertile ground upon which to develop bilateral cooperation between Israel and the UAE, and in the future, regional cooperation with other countries, as part of the normalisation process.
The peace agreement also lays the infrastructure for collaborations in civilian areas, as we are already seeing in tourism, finances and agriculture. This is especially true in the fields of technology and innovation, two areas that both our countries want to advance.
In the past two decades, the UAE formulated several relevant well-funded flagship programmes, recruited Western experts to assist and entered into partnerships with some of the largest and most important entities in the world. These rapid and effective steps have accelerated the UAE's capabilities and have even positioned it in a prominent spot in the global arena. Among the UAE's many achievements are its developments in smart cities, digital education and artificial intelligence.
Israel is renowned as the startup nation. There are few things that we, Israelis, are prouder of than the technological developments made by the thousands of small enterprises and large companies, which are inventing products and producing patents beyond imagination, for the benefit of all of humanity. Having served as Israel's Minister of Economy for three and a half years, I can attest to Israel's many impressive successes in the field, and to the great interest they have sparked around the world. Just think about the endless potential of all Israel and the UAE can accomplish through successful cooperation.
But, of course, this is not all. Israel and the UAE can work in close cooperation in many additional fields: energy, including shifting to renewable energy sources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions; increasing our cooperation in the fields of agriculture and water resources in order to ensure food security for the people of both countries through the use of advanced technologies; health, including the use of artificial intelligence; and increasing collaboration in transportation and tourism that will help us strengthen the ties between us.
As I said at the beginning, the important peace agreement between Israel and the UAE will help advance and develop not only our two countries, but the entire Middle East. It is incumbent on us to create and strengthen the collaborations through which we will achieve this. I am certain that we will succeed in this mission and generate the prosperity that our peoples deserve, for the benefit of the future of our children.
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