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Knesset honors Abraham Accords

The special Advancement of the Abraham Accordsevent celebrated the first anniversary of Israel’s peace treaties with 4 Arab nations at the nation’s parliament in Jerusalem. Invited guests included Moroccan Ambassador H.E. Abderrahim Beyyoudh, US Chargé d’Affaires Amb. Michael Ratney and Jared Kushner.

By Erin Viner

Photo: Noam Moskowitz / Knesset

The Knesset also launched an Abraham Accords Caucus to deepen peace in the region.

“From our first days as an independent nation, wars and bereavement have chased us. Yes, achieving peace is difficult and elusive but despite it,  we have never stopped to seek peace with our neighbors across the Middle East, and to pursue it. On behalf of myself and the Knesset, I extend my gratitude to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Morocco for dreaming with us and for not allowing hatred and radicalization to persist,” Speaker of the Knesset MK (Member of Knesset) Mickey Levy told those gathered.

“The signing of the Abraham Accords could not have been done without the tireless effort of the previous US administration. The US is our closest ally, with whom we share so many common values and ideals. I also wish to take this opportunity to thank the US Congress for its unwavering bi-partisan support of Israel, which was on display in an almost unanimous vote to replenish the Iron Dome interceptors,” he added.

Noted the symbolism of each new diplomatic mission, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid urged additional Arab states and the Palestinians to join Jerusalem’s efforts to broaden its circle of peace. The cutting of the ribbon during the traditional ceremony of opening an Israeli embassy also serves to “cut the Gordian knot of hatred, violence and hostility. We cut through the idea that there is no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that there is no place to advance with it. I seize the opportunity to call upon the Palestinians, and to citizens of every Arab nation that listens to us, we extend our hand to peace,” he said.

“From here, Israel’s free capital Jerusalem, I tell all of our enemies: if you impose on us war, you will lose. We are stronger from your speculations, more determined than what you think, and are willing to sacrifice more than what you believe,” cautioned Israel’s top diplomat, pointing out that, “If instead of this, you will decide to join the Abraham Accords, to bring your nations prosperity and job opportunities, as well as advanced culture of success, our hard stretches out towards you – let us do this together.”

Foreign Minister Lapid expressed gratitude to former United States President Donald Trump for brokering the Abraham Accords, as well as current Israeli Opposition Head Benjamin Netanyahu who had been instrumental in facilitating the agreements during his previous tenure as Israeli Prime Minister.

Lapid’s address was delivered just ahead of his departure to the US for a trilateral summit with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the Emirati Foreign Minister His Royal Highness Sheikh Abdallah Bin Zayed. “One of the central topics that will be on the table in this meeting is broadening the Abraham Accords” to establish Israeli diplomatic ties to an increasing number of nations, he said, while revealing that the prevention of Iranian nuclear development would also be discussed.

US Secretary of State Blinken vowed last month that the administration of US President Joe Biden is working to encourage more Arab countries to recognize Israel and “keep normalization marching forward.”

Also speaking at the Knesset event toward promotion and further implementation of the Abraham Accords pacts between Israel with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco was Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

“I am very happy that these peace treaties were signed, and I am sure that they will be expanded. They will serve as engines of change in the Middle East since they have established peace between our people,” said the nation’s top defense chief, who underscored that, “in order for the State of Israel to achieve peace agreements, it must remain the most powerful state in the Middle East. This is and will continue to be our guiding principle forever.”

The Defense Minister said that “Israel is working to expand existing agreements and pursuing additional agreements.” He also stressed that “We must not forget the important peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, which are great assets to the State of Israel,” and that “We have a duty to develop all peace agreements and to continue to strive for peace with the Palestinians as well.”

After also expressing thanks to “the previous US administration led by Donald Trump and his senior adviser Jared Kushner,” Gantz said he is “confident that together with the current US administration led by President Biden and with the countries of the region, we will continue to expand these positive agreements.”

Ahead of the event, Knesset Speaker Levy held a private meeting with Mr. Kushner and his wife Ms. Trump. Kushner, who is considered a major architect of the deals, reportedly said they created a “new paradigm” in the region, adding that they could have “very different outcomes” depending on the actions of current leaders.

It is interesting to note that several other top Trump administration officials were also in the Israeli capital yesterday at the opening of  the Friedman Center for Peace through Strength at the Museum of Tolerance, initiated by former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. The organization is dedicated to advancing peace in the region by building on the Abraham Accords, including facilitation of visits by thousands of Muslim tourists to Jerusalem to witness firsthand Israel’s protection of all holy sites.

During the event, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was presented with the first Peace through Strength award by his former colleague Friedman. During his remarks, Pompeo said that peace comes from strength, truth, and clarity; and that Trump’s 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights in 2019was simply a matter of stating an evident truth.

The guest list at the gala included former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Opposition Leader Netanyahu and his wife Sara,  FIFA President Gianni Infantino along with local officials and dignitaries.

The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry condemned Friedman’s event, accusing him of being “notorious for his extremist positions and support for annexation, colonization and other crimes under international law in addition to his notorious efforts at denying the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”

In related developments, Israeli President Isaac Herzog also hailed the Abraham Accords while addressing the Jerusalem Post 10th Annual Conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem.

Saying that “over the past year we have seen the good this dialogue can bring,” the Israeli leader said that the pacts “are a remarkable breakthrough in the history of our region. A brave, noble choice by Arab nations, with the fine mediation of the United States, to cast aside a failed policy of exclusion, lack of dialogue, lack of tolerance, and instead embrace a future based on inclusion with an Israel that has always outstretched its hand in peace.”

“I hope many more Middle Eastern nations will emulate this path of dialogue and tolerance,” said President Herzog.

Going on to condemn Iran’s regional aggression as a result of a breakdown of international dialogue, President Herzog said, “Here, we see the world’s failure to act in concert, to settle on a strategy to sever Iran’s tentacles in the Middle East, to restrain its ballistic missile program, and to shut down its nuclear program. Iran is exploiting this inaction, this lack of coordination: a clear threat to international peace and security.”