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Eitan Na'eh, Head of Mission at the Embassy of Israel in Abu Dhabi
Eitan Na'eh, Head of Mission at the Embassy of Israel in Abu Dhabi

Envisioning a corridor of stability and progress between the UAE and Israel

By Rhonita Patnaik

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Published: Thu 28 Jan 2021, 3:26 PM

Eitan Na'eh, Head of Mission at the Embassy of Israel in Abu Dhabi, is the first Israeli Ambassador to be appointed to the UAE. Excerpts:

As the first official diplomat to the UAE, what are your thoughts on the normalisation of ties between the two countries? How would you define the components of the strong relationship on a government and people level between UAE and Israel?

I've had few 'firsts' in my career, but this is no doubt the most exciting of them all.

As an Israeli citizen, an Israeli diplomat and as a person who lives in this region, the Abraham Accords and the normalisation of relations process is significant on many levels.

Indeed, the Accords have brought to the surface relations that were nurtured for quite some time, through quiet diplomacy and creative state craft, but it took courage and long-term vision of the UAE and Israeli leaders to bring it out into the open.

We, in Israel, view these relations as long-term ones. Amid quite an enthusiasm in my country that the Accords created, alongside curiosity and influx of Israeli tourists, there is much to do in terms of identifying and mapping areas of cooperation in many fields. It is a process and it will take time. It needs firm grounds to build on - these are the interests of both our countries.

They are as basic as the need to ensure food security and water, and as visionary as looking together into space and the future. It can be R&D centres in many areas that would be jointly identified, to learning from each other>s experience and best practices. All in all, our aim is to cooperate, build a better future and safer environment in the fullest meaning of it - from a cleaner environment through the development of renewable energy, to security.

It is a process of finding common grounds between people who, in both countries, have been driven by a vision. The power and result of which you can see in Israel and the UAE.

It is coming from the leaders and their people, whose feet are grounded and their culture enriched by traditions of the past and eyes are set towards the future.

As we say in Hebrew - "think good, do good and be good, and God will reward you."

As natives in the Middle East, we look at our region and wish to create in it a "belt" or corridor of stability as well as a model of peace making. We still need to mould and shape it, but the vision and will are here.

Now is time, and it is our duty, with the help of our Emirati and Israeli colleagues, to make it happen and translate the vision into practice. I hope the learning curve will not be too long, but it is a process. It will take time, consume energy and good faith, but I>d want to keep up the momentum.

There is a strong knit community of the Israeli diaspora in the UAE? What are the special initiatives you would be introducing for them to begin with after the Embassy opens?

Well, the historic accord has created much excitement amongst Jews the world over and certainly among the Jews living here in the UAE. As we will be celebrating "Tu Bishvat" the Jewish new year for fruit trees, it will give us all a chance to gather and celebrate, together, united by our faith.

My wife Cheryl and I are thrilled to start commemorating our holidays with our new friends here. We plan to observing it for the first time in the UAE with members of the Jewish communities in the UAE, the US and Israel on one video call. We will be happy to join other such activities and interfaith initiatives.

What are the investments that both countries stand to benefit by, in your opinion?

I mentioned above a few areas of interest, but we will also invest in peace itself in trying to both invite others to join and enlarge the circle of those enjoying the fruits of peace in the region.

In my career as diplomat, I've learned few things. Peace making is not about having others agree with you all the time, it is about planning a future together and better; it is about learning how to live together.

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