Current spokesperson to the Arab media in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, Ofir Gendelman, discusses the recent ‘peace agreement’ between Israel and the UAE.
Gendelman was speaking on a talk show aired on the Arabic version of the Israeli news network i24News.
Source: i24NEWS Arabic (YouTube)
Date: Aug 16, 2020
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Some reports state that the delegation – the Israeli delegation – is preparing to visit the UAE. What is on its agenda?
Ofir Gendelman, current spokesperson to the Arab media in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office:
That is correct. We are preparing to hold talks with the UAE on the practical provisions of the peace agreement. We are discussing many issues and fields including commercial, economic, agricultural and medical cooperation, to fight COVID-19.
There are more issues that we will touch upon as well. What matters is to ‘pour content’ into this deal. Both parties share a desire to develop their relations with each other. We are very optimistic about this deal. The entire Israeli people welcomes it. This is certainly a great achievement for Prime Minister Netanyahu who has concluded (Israel’s) third peace agreement with an Arab country since the last agreement with Jordan 26 years ago. I believe that we are witnessing a new stage in the history of the Middle East. I mean, maybe this is a big statement, but it is the truth.
Mr. Ofir, you are talking about expanding cooperation and relations between the UAE and Israel. To get a clear picture, what was the nature of the relations (beforehand), and what will be added?
Now, we will enjoy strong diplomatic relations that include all the areas covered by all countries that have normal diplomatic relations. Our relation with the UAE will be similar to our relations with the UK and France. The two parties (Israel and the UAE) share common interests and a common will to strengthen these relations.
This question is for you Mr. Ofir. It has been reported that other Arab countries such as the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Sultanate of Oman, and Sudan will also sign a deal with Israel before the end of this year. Is there any additional information, especially since it is being reported that Bahrain is next?
There is of course speculations and analyses. This is understandable. However, we will not mention these countries by name. I speak on behalf of Israel, not on behalf of any other country. However, there will be other countries (that will sign a peace deal). This is a given. I think that the political climate in the region regarding peace with Israel is no longer the same. We see it on social media. We see it in the statements of (political) leaders. We see it in the different views that are being reflected in the Arab world, not just recently but for a (long) time.
Ultimately, this change serves (the interests) of everyone. It is also important for the progress of the peace process with the Palestinians. Unfortunately, you know the Palestinian people, they rejected this deal as usual, although it serves their interests. Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership made another wrong decision.
How will this (peace deal) shape the future of the region?
Look, peace, security, prosperity and stability are all common interests. We do not want to go back and live in crises, wars, conflicts, skirmishes, etc. We are now witnessing a new period, a new opportunity. We are seeing the fruits of this opportunity. Prime Minister Netanyahu has made tremendous efforts over the years to strengthen Israel’s position in the region in order to expand Israeli-Arab relations. We are now witnessing the fruits of these efforts through this deal (with the UAE); and we will continue to witness them through the other deals that will be reached.
Mr. Ofir, as long as the Palestinian side opposes this agreement (between Israel & the UAE), how will the issue progress and how will it develop?
First, Palestinians have already signed several agreements with us in the past. Are peace deals allowed for Palestinians and forbidden for others? This is hypocrisy. We reject that. I believe that if there had been a wise and responsible Palestinian leadership, it would have accepted this deal. I should bring up an important issue. The Palestinians were clinging to the veto right (in terms of) Arab-Israeli relations. That is over. We are saying that strengthening Arab-Israeli relations increases the chance of peace with the Palestinians. If only there was a Palestinian leadership that accepts and understands the importance of that, but unfortunately the current leadership rejects that completely.
Back to you Mr. Ofir. In addition to all these common goals (between Israel and the UAE), if we turn to the Israeli side, what are its future goals? Are there other objectives, such as confronting Iran, or rather establishing an Israeli forward operating base inside the UAE territories, as some say?
No, I think all this (talk) is nothing but conspiracies – conspiracy theories – and so forth. We are just saying that we want to strengthen our relations with the UAE. The UAE is an advanced country, and so is our country. We have human resources and the Emirates has material resources. This integration between the Israeli and Emirati capabilities will be beneficial for the people of the whole region. We look forward to a new future that will benefit all the people of the region.
This story is a story of change…a story of changing this region. We have been facing crises for years, for decades, for almost a hundred years, because of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is time to change the (political and social) climate. This deal is the first step in a long path that will be completed.
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