Israel, UAE ambassadors hold first ever Arabic meeting

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For the first time in history, ambassadors of Israel and the United Arab Emirates held a meeting in Arabic, the native language of both officials.

Israel’s ambassador to Azerbaijan George Deek and the acting Emirati ambassador to Azerbaijan met on Tuesday in the capital city of Baku.

Deek, an Israeli Arab, told Al Arabiya English that holding the meeting with his Emirati counterpart in the Arabic language demonstrated “that we are neighbors.”

“The fact that we spoke in Arabic demonstrated that we are neighbors, part of the same space, and that Israel and the Arab world can, and will work together, in dialogue and mutual respect, towards promoting a world that is safer, more prosperous, and more peaceful,” said Deek.

He added that the bilateral meeting was important “as a symbol of the peace between our countries, as well as for laying the grounds for Israeli-Emirati cooperation in economic, humanitarian, and cultural projects in and together with third countries such as Azerbaijan.”

Israeli Arabs, also known as Arab citizens of Israel, make up nearly 20 percent of Israel’s population and the majority are Palestinian or of Palestinian heritage.

Deek made history in 2018 when he became the first Arab Christian to be appointed to the role of ambassador in the country’s history.

Israel has appointed Arab citizens to ambassador positions since 1995, when Ali Yahya was selected to represent the country in Finland.

Earlier this month foreign envoys of the UAE and Israel held a meeting in Nigeria, marking the first public meeting between diplomats of the two countries in Africa.

Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria Shimon Ben-Shoshan received UAE Charge d’Affaires in Nigeria Khalifa Al Mehrizi.

Ben-Shoshan greeted Al Mehrizi with the Arabic salutation “salaam alaykum,” translated as “peace be upon you” in English.

The two officials were photographed in discussion with Emirati and Israeli flags on a nearby table.

The meeting on September 6, believed to be the first time foreign diplomats of the UAE and Israel have convened publicly, came one week after the historic visit of an Israeli delegation to the UAE capital city Abu Dhabi.

The two countries officially normalized relations in a ceremony at the White House on September 15.

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