Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting with leaders of the United Arab Emirates’ Jewish community Thursday. Following the recent agreement between the two countries, the Israeli PM promised to visit the UAE this year.
After Israel and the United Arab Emirates have agreed last week to normalize diplomatic ties, it is time to pay a visit to each other, said Netanyahu. During the video call, Israeli PM expressed the hope for the soonest ending of a pandemic.
“This peace is good for the State Israel, good for our people and good for all peoples of the region,” he said. “I hope to visit you this year, soon. If we can overcome the coronavirus pandemic I’ll be able to shake your hands too.”
Netanyahu’s administration released a short video clip of the call on Friday. Participating in the call were Ross Kriel, the president of the Jewish Community of the Emirates congregation, as well as Chabad rabbi Levi Duchman and Solly Wolf, who lead a second congregation.
Hailing start of ‘historic’ new era, the first minister stressed the importance of peace between nations.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced their agreement last Thursday afternoon. The sides “agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE,” they said in a joint statement with the US that was released by US President Donald Trump.
The small Jewish community welcomed the agreement, which will definitely help the nations to diversify their vision of the common future. The Gulf country has made great efforts to portray itself as a tolerant country welcoming all religions, including Judaism.
In 2019, President Khalifa bin-Zayed al-Nahyan declared “The Year of Tolerance” in the UAE. In this context, the country announced the building of a massive interfaith compound in Abu Dhabi that will also include a synagogue.
A Jewish community has been operating in Dubai for a decade, initially with tacit support but more recently with overt backing from the local authorities, and is currently in the process of officially becoming a licensed religious community.
Estimates of how many Jews currently live in the UAE range from the low hundreds to 1,500. There are three different congregations — two Orthodox and one egalitarian.