Earlier this year, Ynetnews declared Yousef Al Otaiba the “Peace Entrepreneur” for his courageous efforts to initiate the UAE-Israel normalization agreement.
The Ambassador’s historic journey began after he authored an op-ed that challenged Israel’s plans to annex West Bank territory. Published in Hebrew in Israel’s largest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, the piece outlined how unilateral annexation would upend any hope for normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Committed to conflict prevention and regional stability, his arguments became the catalyst for negotiating the groundbreaking Abraham Accords in the months thereafter.
On August 13, the UAE became the third Arab country to announce formal diplomatic relations with Israel. In a joint statement with the US, the UAE and Israel agreed to exchange embassies and cooperate across several sectors including security, trade, healthcare, education and tourism. Israel also vowed to suspend annexation of Palestinian lands.
In celebration of this historic breakthrough, Ambassador Al Otaiba stated, “Today’s announcement is a significant advance for the region and for diplomacy. It immediately stops annexation and the potential of violent escalation. It maintains the viability of a two-state solution as endorsed by the Arab League and international community. It creates new dynamics and possibilities in the peace process. It bolsters the stability of Jordan.”
The deal was officially signed on September 15, 2020, during a formal signing ceremony at The White House in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Al Otaiba attended the ceremony with the UAE delegation headed by Emirati Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led the Israeli delegation.
Upon the signing, Ambassador Al Otaiba commented, “The possibilities, the stability, the prosperity that is going to be unleashed because of what we signed today is going to be good for our three countries; it’s going to be good for the region.” He also highlighted that the accords open the door to greater understanding between the people of the UAE, Israel and the rest of the world. Young people in particular will be able to take advantage of new educational, economic and cultural exchanges afforded by the agreement.
Ambassador Al Otaiba has long been a proponent of promoting peaceful solutions. Early in his appointment as Ambassador of the UAE to the US, he helped bring the US-UAE 123 Agreement to fruition, resulting in the first nuclear energy plan in the UAE. This expansion of peaceful nuclear energy solutions has been deemed a model for providing sustainable, environmentally friendly energy to the region.
Throughout his career, the Ambassador has continued to build coalitions and seek out opportunities to bolster security, economic and cultural partnerships in the Middle East. While there is still a long way to go, it is good to know that there are leaders who can innovate and drive new peaceful solutions.
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba’s Statement on the Signing of the Abraham Accords