UAE-Israel treaty a win for diplomacy: Key negotiators

Abu Dhabi - Al Otaiba noted the Abraham Accords were a win for diplomacy.


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Fri 25 Dec 2020, 11:37 AM

Last updated: Fri 25 Dec 2020, 11:49 AM

Negotiation skills of diplomats were key in the moments leading up to the UAE-Israel Abraham Accords, said two main driving forces behind the deal inked in September.

At a virtual event hosted by the Emirates Diplomatic Academy (EDA) in Abu Dhabi, Avi Berkowitz, assistant to the US President and special representative for international negotiations, along with Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the US and Minister of State, gave an insight into the hard work done behind the scenes.

“There were a lot of countries that were thinking of ways to improve their relationship with Israel, but there are a lot of risks in that and it takes a lot of courage. The UAE and the leaders of the UAE took courage in taking that step, which inspired other countries also to show courage,” Berkowitz said while taking part in the ‘EDA Next 50 Talks’ series titled ‘The Abraham Accords and US Foreign Policy’.

Berkowitz pointed out that when it comes to negotiating, diplomats must consider what brings value to their country.

“When negotiations take place, be comfortable about being uncomfortable for a significant period of time. Keep in mind that you might not get a resolution for something, even though your intentions are in the right place,” he told EDA’s professors, researchers and future diplomats.

Berkowitz added that from the moment the Abraham Accords were signed, the vast majority of Israelis preferred the outcome of the agreement and “forgot about the annexation” of the West Bank territory.

“We believe this deal is a big game changer for the region. The UAE shows a great model for tolerance. I couldn’t be prouder to work with the UAE, as a Jewish person and as an American. I think the Abraham Accords put the UAE in a new league, it took tremendous courage and people are now approaching the UAE in a different light,” he added.

‘Be a good negotiator’

Al Otaiba noted the Abraham Accords were a win for diplomacy.

“Diplomacy gets the credit for achieving something that the region desperately needed. The Abraham Accords set off a chain reaction of events, where the full outcome will appear much later. We have proven that we are not the only ones who can do this successfully, but three other countries proved this as well, within a matter of four months,” he added.

He stressed on the importance for every diplomat to be a good negotiator.

“In most negotiations, you have to gain something and give something up, but this was not the case here, we both wanted the same outcome. If your outcome is ultimately a win-win deal, there is very little tension.”

Al Otaiba told the EDA’s trainee diplomats to focus on building trust and transparent relationships in their diplomatic career: “Focus on your skills set. It is important to build strong relationships that are built on trust, credibility and transparency. If you have these relationships, you will do well regardless of where you are posted. Try to build your relationships on solid ground. Separate your personality and beliefs from your analysis and assessments – this is key for all diplomats.”


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