Exclusive: We will not be prisoners of the past, says Israeli PM's aide

UAE-Israel, Jews, Arab nations, better off, Netanyahu aide

For many years, Jews in the Muslim Middle East were treated much better than the Jews in the Christian Europe.


Anjana Sankar

Published: Tue 15 Sep 2020, 11:51 PM

Last updated: Wed 16 Sep 2020, 8:33 AM

Jews in the Middle East were better off than their counterparts in the Christian Europe for many years, and by leaving behind the hostilities of the past, the UAE and Israel are showing the world how historical animosities can be overcome and partnerships built for future, Mark Regev, Senior Advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview.
"For many years, Jews in the Muslim Middle East were treated much better than the Jews in the Christian Europe. There were traditions of religious tolerance in Islam at a time when it was not present in Christian Europe. We are all the children of Abraham. The conflict between us in the last decades were an aberration," said Regev over telephone on Monday from Washington D.C, where the UAE and Israel will sign the historical Abraham Accord on Tuesday, September 15.
The US-brokered peace deal, which Trump announced on August 13, will see both the countries establishing diplomatic relations, and Israel agreeing to halt its controversial annexation in the occupied West Bank.
The UAE is the first GCC nation to normalise relations with Israel, and the third Arab country to do so after Egypt and Jordan.
Speaking about the scars of the decades-long hostilities between Arabs and Jews in the region, Regev said people cannot forever remain imprisoned in the past.
"No one can forget the past. In my country, of course, there are many memories from the Arab-Israeli wars. But there is a difference between knowing the past and being aware of the past and being imprisoned by it."
The official said both Israel and the UAE are countries that "embrace the future".
"Both countries are proud of their heritage and culture. But we want to embrace 21st century; we want to embrace the global economy. We cannot be imprisoned by the rejectionism of the past. We want a Middle East where there is partnership. We want a Middle East where there is cooperation among all parties."
According to him, the Abraham Accord represents the convergence of national interest between Israel and UAE.
"The fact that others are following us and will follow us is a sign that this is the path of the future. This shows others that the Arabs and Israelis, the Jews and Muslims do not have to live in conflict. We are showing an example to the world how historical animosities can be overcome and how we can work together in the future," said Regev.
Calling the new friendship between Israel and the UAE a 'winning combination', Regev said:"The UAE is known for your entrepreneurship and your business skills. Israel is known as a start-up nation. You combine the Israeli innovation and the UAE entrepreneurship, and imagine what we can do together. This is a new era."
When asked about more Arab countries joining the new order, Regev said "the train has left the station and its very clear what the direction is".
"I expect more and more Arab countries to join. The last time when we signed a peace treaty was with Jordan in 1994, and we had to wait over a quarter of a century. But the fourth one with Bahrain just took a few short weeks."
On the issue of peace with Palestine, Regev said Israel is ready to immediately restart negotiations with its neighbour. "If Palestinians choose the path of peace, we are willing to work with them closely. Ultimately the Palestinians have to make their own decisions. I hope they will choose to join the widening circle. I know they will eventually but it is only how long will they take," Regev said.

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