tv Ambassadors of Israel UAE Bahrain Discuss Middle East Peace Policy CSPAN January 8, 2021 1:02pm-2:07pm EST
the united arab emirates and bahrain established diplomatic relations with israel lastyear. ambassadors joined the discussion hosted by the economic club of washington about the what their new diplomatic ties mean for the region . [music] >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome david rubenstein, president of the economic club of washington dc . >> welcome everyone to our ninth virtual signature event
of our 35th season but it's not completely virtual because for the first time since covid has hit we are actually having my guests here today and it's because of the special program and i want to sithank our live guest coming in, participating in what unique program because we've been doing everything virtual for almost 9 months now i guess is that our guests are here to talk about something special, abraham records which weresigned at the white house september 15 with the heads of each of these countries as cewell as presidential being there as the official . let me introduce post and i'll make some announcements outwards and we will have a interesting conversation. our first is ambassador, his excellency abdulla al-khalifa who is the ambassador from bahrain, the kingdom of bahrain andhe has been the ambassador here since 2017 . then yousef al otaiba, ambassador his excellency yousef al otaiba, he's been ambassador since 2000 and one
longest-serving ambassadors now in washington dc also ambassador from israel, the ambassador from israel, ron dermer who's been here since 2013 so welcome all three of you. i'm going to have an interesting conversation with you in a moment and let me make a few preliminary announcements. i like to recognize our sponsors, title sponsor of bank of america , oularry, thank you for doing that. emerging leaders sponsors pwc terry clements, senior partner of pwc i like to thank her for her leadership in that effort and siemens usa barbara this ceo, thank you again bank of america. our corporate partners are on the screen and you can see them thank you for all the corporate partners . two events i would to announce coming up, later this week we have the ceo of johnson and johnson alex gorski to hear about covid
vaccines and other things related to health care and on december 9 we have julie sweep is chiefexecutive officer of accenture . let's go into the conversation about this. all of you, why don't i start on my left and we will work ourway through if we could . what brought about this historic record, the abraham records. all of a sudden the heads of your country say this is a good idea, was it in the works for a long time? this, ambassador al-khalifa. >> we've seen historically how unfortunate this step was for those that have actually taken the step. it's truly historic, we've seen anwar sadat, king hussein took hold leaders to take this step forward. and today we've seen our leaders as well take this step. we had the foreign minister
in town. he signed records on behalf of the kingdom and i think there were a lot of events that led up to where we are today. basically, his majesty's vision of peaceful coexistence within bahrain and the region has led to where bahrain incould take a decision like this is very important time. i should have said at the outset i wanted to offer our condolences to your prime minister passed away week. we're sorry to hear this thank you for coming despite that situation. so ambassador al otaiba, what led to this happening right now? >> we've been having having a debate inside the uae and it could have happened a year earlier, two or three years from now . the reason that happened in august 2020 is because of the annexation debate. we think progress we were making with israel and like
having israeli civilian expo, things like that were going to be harmed by annexation and we came up with the idea of trading, preventing annexation so set spending annexation in exchange for normalization. negotiation with the white house happened quickly. very enthusiastic white house us over the finish line in august 13, he made it announcement and the signing was on september 13 and it's been widely received. >> some people have asked why you did it before the presidential election. why not wait until after the presidential election because you could give a gift to the next president, why do you want to do something now? >> it's not always about the united states, david . this had nothing to do with the elections, nothing to do with politics. the annexation debate was
raging in june and july and it was a july 1 deadline, we thought that was risking the progress we saw inside the uae over the last couple of years people visibly saw israeli participating in sports, israeli delegation participating in the special olympic games. so i was going to be expo, all these things were slowly getting to a place where we can be comfortable with normalization, all these things are goingto be at risk exit and proceeded . >> why do it now, what was the reason your country wanted todo this now ? >> to pick up on what yousef said, there were factors that brought us together underneath the service for onseveral years and one was the rise of iran and we face our country has faced a common danger. another factor was the rise of sunni radicalism so iran is on the csi on the sunnis iq al qaeda which is revivalism 1.0 crisis which
is 2.0 and there's going to be a 3.0 and i think the government all share a common interest in confronting that danger. was a third factor as well, there is a perception that the united states is withdrawing from the middle east or itpolice reducing its military there something connected president obama with president from even with future president i because no one is talking about sending more troops to the middle east and i think that brings us towards a common position at a common strategy. that's what created this strong alliance underneath the surface. surfaced were the events of the last year. president trump without peace plan in january it was a peace plan is real except the arab state did not reject. it was interesting to a three ambassadors in that room when president trump unveiled the peace plan are here with me today. they were in that room in january and a few months later we were looking forward to the extent israeli sovereignty over territory
was tested with the trump piece plan that as yousef said is what got their country in a position that we wanted to do this for some time. this may be the opportunity to do it and contacted the white house and said if israel is willing to suspend the extension of sovereignty we are willing to normalize once we have offer on the table for several weeks we were able to finalize it and create a breakthrough for the whole region. >> yousef mentioned the annexation. as israel agreed not to x rr other territories that are in dispute in the west bank now or not ? >> part of our agreement and you can see it in the statement in august 13 of this past year as israel was going to suspend extending sovereignty tothose territories . was a rule that was carefully chosen. yousef can tell you it was very specific. it doesn't mean permanent, doesn't mean tomorrow, it
needs somewhere in between. we agreed to suspend and enable this breakthrough first for the uae and also a portion of the kingdom of bahrain follow thereafter. we hope we will see more countries in the months and years ahead . >> in bahrain at this met with popular support or has therebeen protests of this agreement ? >> i think first of all we've seen ever since the uae announced that the speaker of the house, we've seen the chairman of the house foreign affairs committee, as with and also very positive statement so people looking at this from, the surprise came with the people that actually supported the move and not any sort of opposition to it. now, in any democratic society there will be those
that are with a decision like that and those that are f against it but here there was overwhelming support . the country moves forward. the foreign minister left town immediately after the signing to brief congress. so i think that people in bahrain are looking at this, looking at the cost of implications that will come out of the deal, possibilities, marking potential that was never there for we are moving forward. >> yousef, you've been inthis town a long time, acid since 2008 . how did you keep this asecret so long ? there are no secrets in washington, everything weeks so tell us the secret of keeping this from leaking. >> weekend in a tight circle, only negotiated with two or three people in the white house and grew to abouteight or nine . i'm sure in israel was also kept in a tight circle and you just limit the number of
people exposed to something worked.is in our case it also what health was it didn't take long. from the minute we started discussing this to the minute the announcement went public i think we are talking about five or six weeks. >> was all the negotiation virtual? >> i went in person to the white house many times in july and august. >> if you were to say there's one person at the white house other than president from who deserves the credit who would you say? >> i would say most of the work was done with three people. jared kushner, david berkowitz and nobel peace. >> has to question he said the word suspend was carefully negotiated . people say was carefully discussed whether that 35 that some countries would like, uae for example at israel has agreed not to oppose that. is that, how would youfreeze israel's position on the 35 ? >> the 35 issue is not part
of the deal that was made. you have to ask yousef about his desire to have that vis-c-vis the united states but what we take very seriously in israel is the american commitment to maintain israel's qualitative military edge. it's one of the most sacrosanct pencils we have in the alliance and there's a profit that we go through whenever any weapons would go to any country in the region. after the accords were signed in mid-september, september 15, he started that process with the united states. sometimes that process takes a year but we put the team in washington they were here really throw out for about 40 days discussing our relevant security officials with their counterparts in the pentagon we were able to reach understanding with them that: it when our defense minister came to washington signed agreements with the secretary erof defense and we believe
that we said publicly both the prime minister defense minister then who don't agree on a lot of things but they agreed on this that this perspective sale would not violate the us commitment to maintaining israel's allocative military edge and we feel confident about and we are grateful that we also have partners in the region to confront commondangers . oui wouldn't underestimate the impact that the danger of iran has had on bringing our state closer together because this is as i said that happening for several years underneath the surface. and we were able because of a certain dynamic that yousef described to be able to service it but we face a real danger in iran. it is a country that vows to destroy the state of israel and works every day to destroy the state of israel country that has attacked my colleagues here attacked their countries so we all have shared concern and i
believe in the years ahead we will work together i think to confront common danger that the very good news for peace in the middle east. >> so ambassador al-khalifa, let me ask you are there other members of the gcc that you think are likely to sign up to the abraham accords in the near future? you have speculated about say , radio. there's been speculation about oman outside the gcc there's been speculation about morocco. anything you can say how the likelihood of rejoining? >> i can't speak for other hi countries but what i can say is in the process leading up to bahrain's decision we did consult with some of our allies in the region and beyond the region, the foreign minister was on a trip before coming here. we spoken obviously to our neighbors as well and we've seen support grow. i think that at this stage,
the critical issue is whether or not it's going to be successful. we have a successful model here that other countries can emulate. and i think we are on the right track . we have, we've accepted a trade delegation from israel and the united states last month. secretary mnuchin was present. mayor shabad from the israeli side and it started as a joint communiquc and it ended up with a joint communication of seven. we also have a historic visit from the foreign minister and to date to tel aviv alongwith the minister of industry and commerce . old working groups have been formulated ." use have been signed more good news is going to come out sometime. >> i think just to tack on that, we are the first wave .
to the extent any other country in the region is looking at this and debating whether this is good for them or not, it's on us to make sure we demonstrate the success. first we have to demonstrate to our people this decision which was risky, which was unconventional made sense and was the right decision and is going to produce the right outcome . we need to show people this is a success. when i was young and my hair was very dark i worked in the fawhite house for president carter and he had the famous camp david summit and ultimately as you know egypt and israel came to an agreement but there was plans then there would be a lot of west say commerce between those two countries and a lot of tourism between the two countries and investments didn't materialize . what are you doing to make certain that there actually is real investment back and forth and real exchange in tourism? >> let's try to understand
the differences. jordan and egypt when they made peace and detail and all the wars, conflict and tension. i egyptian. my mother is egyptian, my wife is egyptian. almost grew up thinking israel is the enemy. with program that way, without understanding the reasons. we are taught this is our enemy so it takes a while for you to reprogram yourself and to change your mindset. i think the uae is looking at very differently. if you take all the geopolitical issues aside, with israel on a bilateral economic investment trade platformmakes total sense . we've already seen mou signed on technology, autonomous vehicles. there's going to be a joint film festival, i don't know if you so on its own engaging with israel for economic investment, trade, research reasons is totallyvalid . >> if i want to fly from
jerusalem or tel aviv to abu dhabi today, i can do that in a commercial play. >> i was just texting with the ceo of todd airlines, he's been i think going to high water plants in august. fly july is already starting next week. >> but to do that you have to fly over the kingdom of saudi arabia so somebody must have called somebody said you have any problems withthis and i said what ? >> that someone who answered said it's fine. >> i would ask you that was but i can guess. the israeli knesset is famous for lots of divisions and israel is famous for lots of i would say this agreement from time to time, you're probably familiar with so this next with unity, is this something everybody in israel agrees on is this something somebodies is not such a good thing. >> you don't get unanimity in
israel on anything but you get as close to it can people are thrilled with what happened. i want to get back to something that yousef said, comparing this piece to the piece when youwere in the white house in 1979 and look at the differences . when scott made his peace with israel, at peace was rejected by every arab government in the region and by the era public throughout the middle east. and some not if memory serves egypt was thrown out of the air out leak at that time ultimately paid with his life . his courageous act in making peace with israel. fast forward 40 years when shaikh mohammed decided to make this piece with israel. this was welcomed by many governments in the region, and, with violence about it which speaks volumes sometimes in the middle east and what we see is they are out public to the extent that we can measure it in social media, you have very broad support for this decision.
we have the possibility here of doing something we didn't do egypt or jordan. we like to do it with both of them which is half piece from the bottom up but we do not see the forces either in emirates or in bahrain, political, economic and cultural forces working against piece which you had for decades. there were times if an egyptian business and we go to tel aviv and come back to cairo you will be welcomed with roses the same thing the j jordanian intellectual who would go to israel come back to jordan. in these two countries you clearly see positive sentiment is not coming from the top which is critical on we think there could be a huge shift in the region and i hope is we will look back on 2020 and see it at the beginning of the end of the rf israeli conflict. >> since 1979 israel has boomed as a venture capital and technology has been quite successful but mostly the
technology companies that have built in israel often migrate to the united states. do you think israeli entrepreneurs will migrate to the uae bahrain other countrieswhere they will not do that .>> i think we may be able to forge partnerships and you can think of what to better countries than the uae bahrain to be able to forge that partnership because we have great innovators and great technology, they have great innovation, great resources there. you marry these two the sky is the limit and if you think about the traditional era boycott of israel which has gone on for decades, it's sort of like oregon, nevada, utah, arizona, new mexico southern california silicon valley. israel is a great center of innovation not just in the region, in global terms critical technologies. now when you have this partnership to take it vantage is for the benefit of
all our people and really the entire region. >> so as people are watching may not know you don't have what some would call an israeli accent. you have an american accent. >> in miami accent. >> how did you get accent? >> born and raised in miami beach and went to school here in university admitted to israel. >> you went to university of pennsylvania and migratedto israel and how did you get to know ? >> you only on our program. >> you became and got involved in politics, how did that happen ? >> i wanted to involved in ve this country i will. i was born and raised and feel grateful for having been born and raised here but there was another country i wanted to help spike not just to survive but in its right to survive what i think we achieved in the last few months with this breakthrough i think prevents israel's security i think we will
expand peace in the region and as i said hopefully we can look back at what has happened in the last few months and i was very hard as for my colleagues were at the president-elect joe, one of the things he agreed with president trump on was that abraham accords. he statement saying he like to build on and expand and i think that's a good thing in a time when the two parties can't agree on anything openly to agree on this which is piece and to expand, to deepen the peace we already have egypt and jordan have other countries join in and fundamentally transform the region. >> when you were coming up for any for this was unanimous and itwas going to be that abraham accords or was there something else you were thinking ? was theresomething else anybody, ? >> us came up with the name. we were all thinking about something and somebody at the white house came up with the name.
and honestly it couldn't been more perfect thing. we're building a brand family house which has a mosque, a church in the synagogue where all people can practice together so having welcomed the pope, brick building abraham house, calling this abraham accords, it's a fitting name abraham is the father ishmael and isaac so we are the descendents of ishmael and isaac so i think it's a fitting name the last time ishmael and isaac got together with abraham about 4000 years ago instead of coming together, it's nice to come together for a new peace in the region. >> talk about yourbackground, where did you draw ? >> i was born and raised in egypt, finished high school here and finally after high school in 1991 came here and went to school at georgetown after georgetown i moved to abu dhabi and started working the government, the first
time we met was probably around 16 years ago. we had our first meeting, we had lunch with shaikh mohammed and i think what i wanted to say is the middle east that you saw then is very different from the middle east we are talking about today . and the perfect reflection of that were evidence of that is the three of us are sitting here doing an interview with you. i couldn't have happened 16 years ago when we first met so. >> ambassador al-khalifa, i know you also went to school in the united states. >> i did grow up inbahrain . i went to school in boston six years mba, went back, civil servants all my life. my previous post was as a governor of one of the core governors so i worked closely with the people this was a shift, a very good shift .
serving the country is still an honor and pleasure. >> for those who haven't been to bahrain or are not that familiar with it, what is the population of bahrain ? >> population is 1.5. we have, speaking of covid very quickly, we have one of the highest desperate capital because of the number of population. have 1.8 million tests done up-to-date. but bahrain is a developing country. it's moving really quickly. we diverse find a way for oil a long time ago so we're looking at different prospects as we grow our entrepreneurship and small to medium enterprises and we're looking at opportunities. this is a great opportunity and it will unlock potential business opportunities for
entrepreneurs especially in the industry. >> i've been to bahrain many times and i wonder why is it bahrain didn't get oil as much as say other countriesin the region . do you ever think you could look harder? there is no oil nearby or feel shortchanged or what have you done to build your time ? >> back in 1932 rain was the first country todiscover oil in the whole region . and haever since that time, it was just restricted to that view. last year, we've uncovered off the shore oil which is levels and so we're looking at us companies to help us because it's unconventional oil that we are looking. the market rate today doesn't make economic sense but i
mean, the amount of oil was discovered in the offshore oilfields is fast. and we're looking to partners to assist in it. >> yousef, there are two countries that people wonder about what's going to happen with respect to them . maybe that abraham accords o will change it. one is qatar and one is young and so you think anything is likely to change with respect to what's going on in either country? >> we've been out of yemenfor coming up on a year and a half . and as a serious enough challenges not just economic but health-care and humanitarian i think the challenge with you is going cto be largely domestic. i know we all want the yemen war to end. what's preventing that from ending are the factions unable to get to a political reconciliation. you have the who these, the counsel, you have a
variety of players who can't come to an agreement on what the political formula should be. i think that's the main challenge. we've been working with the un envoy for many years asking today what his biggest challenges is getting identities on board. >> i don't think it's going to get resolved anytimesoon . it's a small problem . it's not really being addressed. it's not on anyone's priority calist. we just had a philosophical disagreement over what we want our region to look like we have sent out to figure out what the solution is. i want to go there way, were going to go hours and i don't think anyone pays too much attention to. >> i've been there many times, can you explain what dubai is, although david and the other parts of uae andhow it came together to be the uae and foreign-policy things . >> the uae is a combination
of seven emirates so they then asked seven states. they created union december 2, 1971, although david is the largest in sizeand is where most of the oil is found . dubai is the commercial financial logistics and trade capital so we can johnny or i often described as the washington dc, dubai is the new york city. five other emirates: northern emirates they come together and form one diverse but very stable federation in the region. >> at the total population is ?? >> about 10 million people, dubai citizens are 1.5 million. >> have you been to israel? >> i have not, i'm looking forward to going and also looking forward to having the prime minister visit us once the corona is under control. >> have you been to israel? >> i think i will be on the same flight with you. >> .bahrain mark. >> i just extended an
invitation for formula one. >> i want to pick one up on something atlas said. if you look at who was supported that abraham accords and who opposed it it tells you a lot about where the region is. only states in the region at post was one that's an obvious one because we are all their enemies. or they regard us as their enemies. the palestinian authority opposed the reason they opposed is a thought they had veto power over israel's relationship with any arab states and the courage of the leaders of both uae and bahrain is about telling the palestinians you don't have that veto power over progress in the region that was a very important thing. another power was turkey. turkey remarkably opposed the agreement and even threatened
maybe you can this, they threatened to remove their ambassador on the emirates. the turkish ambassador to the emirates over the support. david noted israel and turkey have active erotic relations for seven years. having to see in israel. we have an embassy in turkey threatening the uae that they were going to call their ambassador another country unfortunately it was qatar who used its considerable power over media in the region through al jazeera not to support this agreement so when you have an agreement and the only state opposing our iran, palestinian authority andqatar that tells you something . there's a divide in our region is not sunni and shia, is not due, it's between the forces of modernity and the forcesof nihilism . these states want to embrace modernity and progress. >> the population of israel is a little over 9 million people and the 9 million people would you say that
what percentage are immigrants to the country, let's say you were an immigrant what percentage were bornthere ? >> maybe about half because we had waves of immigration. immigration after israel's establishment largely from the middle east and north africa, jewish communities existed for 2500 years like in the case of jews from iraq and yemen communities in libya and morocco and other places. we had a massive wave of immigrants from the former soviet union. we also had ethiopian jews who were airlifted in the 1980s is quite a number of people, i don't know the exact numberthat were born but we are a society of immigrants , jews who come from maybe 100 d.countries around the world who returned to our accessible. >> do you have of you there will be any progress with the palestinians next three or five years or do you see not likely to happen in terms of resolving the palestinian
issue. >> i think because of what happened there is a chance for progress because the old formula was let's make a deal pwith the palestinians if we can achieve peace , israel will have peace 21, 20 abstinence and that would be great as long as we had a palestinian partner who would like to make peace but the decision of sheikh mohammed to come into this alliance or with israel, come into this relationship makes it will more likely you will have moderate forces on the palestinians were willing to reach a historic compromise with israel. before the reductionist rule and they said the entire arab world will never make peace with israel and now that we are prepared to make a piece beyond egypt and jordan but now you have three other countries have moved towards peace , i think it will strengthen the forces of moderation within palestinian society and hopefully we will get a palestinian leader who will want to be like some or hussein worship mohammed, who want to join in this remarkable movement for
peace. the decision will be there. we can't force them tomake peace with. rejected the legitimacy of a nationstate for the jewish people for a century . i hope hope they won't waste next century . i hope they will follow the example of my colleagues and decide to make peace with sisrael. >> ambassador deals not just with the us government but jewish community jewish community in thestates, what has been a reaction ? >> they are overjoyed. anytime that we had leader wanted to make peace with israel we spoke to peace their own people was overwhelming support within israel and within the broader jewish world that was the case now maybe yousef can it and i don't nknow how they seven debtorsbeen invited to . >> groups, common reaction i get is most people didn't think this was possible.
most people didn't think pothis happened before a palestinian state was for to ron! we tried this approach. world came together the collective position was were not going to do anythinguntil stt there's a palestinian state. makes sense. didn't work. it simply didn't work. you have is intractable political problem hasn't made any progress in the last 30 years so we finally concluded let's try something else. let's try a differentapproach . i've been incredibly well received by everyone with the exception of countries . but here, when you talk to individual jewish americans or even evangelicals, they are in disbelief that this actually happened very proud, very excited think this is just the beginning. >> we've mentioned sheikh mohammed, could you just described his background and how long he's been activelyin his position ?do >> make sure you don't see this part of the interview
because it's very low-profile, is now the crown prince of abu dhabi deputy supreme commander. he was formerly an armed forces, military guys background. spent 26 years in the military and east gentleman i've been working for the last 20 years of my life. >> and the ruler of bahrain now is? >> commented descended the throne in 1999 and the first thing he did was he compressed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy . two houses, so a legislative branch and an appointed house and elected house. the appointed house which is interesting for us today as always had people from different backgrounds within bahrain . so there was always representation from the indigenous society from bahrain and the appointed house. one of the members was
representing bahrain in washington dc as an ambassador for a number of years . so his majesty has been invested in safety and security for many years and hence building on the us navy's fleet. we've been in every us led military operation in the region. we hosted the international maritime security conference, a numberof countries . ctf, etc. so we've been looking at peace within the region in order for economic stability. >> your country is what percentage shiite and what percentage sunni ? >> we never looked at this. we are looking at bahrain first . when you look at bahrainis, everyone needs to move forward and then you have a lot of people that have a
sunni father and a she on d mother. where would you classify them ? so the bahrain first policy has been one policy that has taken us there and we moved as a community. it's a small community t. we need to work with one another. where not divided into different geographic fo locations so the country needs to work together in order to move forward. >> there's a jewishpopulation in bahrain .y. >> we had a synagogue for over 80 years. that synagogue is to be visited by the indigenous jewish society in bahrain but now what's happening is because we can expect from israel, because we can expect visitors from throughout the world, t hotels are starting to offer kosher meals.
the synagogue is undergoing a renovation we have started to look at people coming from abroad and making sure. >> one of sheikh abdullah's predecessors who came in when i went in in july 08 was a jewish bahraini. >> the first female acid in washington and she happened to be roush. >> will need a second synagogue jews need a synagogue they always go to a synagogue they never go to. >> humans and everything doesn't revolve around american presidential elections sometimes a new president comes in for him so you have any gifts you might want to mentiontoday ? >> i don't have anything today but i think a great gift would be a model of the abraham family house. this symbolizes who we are in the uae will be we believe in . >> we've always wanted tolerance, we have a minister
of tolerance even without abraham courts, there is a growing jewish community in the uae. even without abrahamcourts, visited your . always opened our society out to everyone. today we have 200 uae, every religion you, everyone practicing coexisting peacefully. those are the values we tried to show the rest of theworld . we want to prove wyou can have a modern society in the e middle east i think the abraham courts political comment is going to add to that awareness for the rest of the people. >> what do you think the basic interest trying to deal with the middle east? what is their concern with your country or saudi arabia, what are the most worried about were concerned about ? >> this is my own personal theory . i think iran looks that are part of the world thinks of
the days of the persian empire and thinks that this is an area that belongs to them. we are countries that are either serbians or ultimately are sort of persian colonies. i think that's the crux of the disagreement. i don't believe it's just sunni shia because we have cases and demonstrations where countries we have sunni and shia that coexist. this is more about identity and who feels this belongs to he so i think that's the main challenge . >> what you think iran's biggest concern is with he israel ? >> want to export their revolution that began in 1979 may now as i said before to destroy israel and there also trying through their proxy forces to undermine stability to take over countries throughout the region ., in syria, lebanon through a lot,
iran is the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world. at this ideology that they seek to export data doing it until recently in the last two or three years where essentially sanctions have been put back on iran. the president withdrew from the nuclear deal which i was very important for the region . the region much safer because it took the power that had a tailwind and ran then turned into a headwind and it's become much more difficult for them to exporttheir ideology . i will tellyou , what's important for me, what's most important is to understand why we achievethis success ? what was the recipe for success clear to me it was a policy where you confront iran you embrace your allies in the region and you leave open a door to the palestinians but you don't put that issue front and center hospital has been invested in that issue as yousef said a lot has been
invested andnenot a lot has been achieved .confront, embrace your allies in the region, leave open the door to the palestinians don't center could expand this piece more and more countries and as i said hopefully and they are israeli conflict begin to see a change in the israeli-palestinian conflict. >> the greatest existential threat to israel is iran you would say. >> the one existential threat . >> no other existential right at this moment. >> israel is a very powerful country, powerful militarily and technologically iran is a country that is pursuing nuclear weapons that ultimately to going to destroy the state of israel. so we have to do whatever we have to do in order to defend ourselves finding allies in the region will stand against the common todanger that. >> people are saying that president-elect is joe biden if he is openly sworn in and
says i want to put the iranian agreement back together again your position would be not the thing to do? >> i think it would be a mistake and hopefully he will look at the middle east as it is . you will see the benefits of this process how he can continue process and i think to not go back into this thing. we all in the region, israel and arab states opposed to nuclear deal. the prime minister opposed it publicly in congress in 2015 but i think he spoke for many others in the region and i think that when you have israelis and address saying to you this is not a good idea. donot follow that path. u i think that should be taken into consideration . if you have when you're dealing with north korea six party talkswith the north korea , two of those parties were to pay an south korea meeting your allies in the region were at the table. the discussions over where the nuclear deal was made,
israel was not detailed and arab states were not able sober thing i would say to the incoming administration, sit with your allies in the region, we have the most in the game . we have the most to lose. to us, try to work out a common position which i think is possible not only to deal with nuclear issues and also the regional aggression, or common policy your allies in the region. will both enhance this process and i think put the united states in a much better place to dealwith iran ? >> yousef, you've been ambassador for some time and consider one of the most influential ambassadors in washington picky being an influential ambassador? is it going to cocktail parties, knowing people inthe white house ? >> i have been to anything about 10 months that's obviously not. i think being consistent ,
being honest. just being direct with people even when they don't like what you hear. times we had on honest disagreements but they are honest. no time your position. you are very direct about what your country stands for, what your analysis of other countries, although most countries positions are real there's no country on the planet where we agreewith everything . there are going to be disagreements but i think as long as those disagreements are handled with respect and honesty i s think it makes you, makes what effective job. >> the greatest pleasureof being an ambassador is what ? >> being able to reflect the views, positions, values of the entire country . if you think about it is very stressful . there is nomargin for error . you can't make a mistake of ouwhat your country believes or stands for so you have tobe , you have to be accurate. but being able to tell people this is what country believes
this is what my country thinks is they are. >> was the greatestdownside to being an ambassador . >> always have to be right, can't afford to stay. people look to you for guidance on all kinds of things . that's not a bad thing fothat people come to you for anything from or how you enter to what is your policy on iran on the courts or on you. you have to be able to answer a lot of questions. >> being an ambassador? is as much fun as you thought were not as good as you thought it was going tobe ? >> maybe go back to ron's discussion on karen answer the question. i think countries around the world need to realize the effects of rands policies on not only the region but the entire world. when you have an attack on the global energy infrastructure, a guy in california filling up his gas
tank is going to realize there's a difference that he's paying here. i think that is important for the us government going we forward if we were to see an agreement with iran to take into consideration all the challenges that we are facing in the region. and we're talking not just the ballistic missile program but we're talking proxy activities, talking the spread of the ideology of this hegemonic ambition that we have seen from iran for 40 years now. so i think as allies to the united states we stand ready to be at the table, talking about what is important to us and assisting in any way possible going forward. now as a political appointee, this was new to me so i have to a lot of people here in washington.
there was a very supportive role that came from my friend and colleague ambassador favor and it's just been a very interesting time especially in the past few years where we've seen a lot. >> was the greatest pleasure of being anambassador and with the greatest downside ? >> it's a tremendous honor to be the representative of the one and only jewish state. and i'll take it for granted for one minute we were a people as you know david did not have sovereignty for 2000 years so the restoration of jewish sovereignty and the land of israel is an event that could be seen not in the context of one generation or two generations maybe 1000 years so i'm cognizant of the privilege the most remarkable thing about being israeli ambassador is israel has ambassadors meaning we have a refuge or a shield.
that's something the jewish people did not have 75 years ago when we face the worst disaster in our history so i'm cognizant of the fact cognizant of the fact that many other powers throughout history who sought to annihilate our people don't have representatives in washington. there's no ambassador of ancient babylon, no ancient rome, no asset or 1000 year right but there is an considerable israel over me there's a great honor to be able to represent mycountry , jews and arabs in israel. jews and muslims and christians to speak for them as yousef said i saved the most important thing a concert is that people who them know they are speaking for their leadership and they are speaking to their leadership and i think this is what has made frankly yousef and effective washington. it's the same with abdullah and the same with me.
at any balls us with very small circle of people to be able to reach the that we have because if you have to go through layers of democracy i think it's different it's a great honor to serve the difficult part of beingisrael's ambassador . you lose a little bit of that sense of privacy but hopefully i will get that back when i returned to jerusalem. >> be always say now i understand the news, what's next so what are you going to do next to build on the abraham courts -mark is there some second phase? >> the first thing we have to do after the announcement was a series of bilateral use with the government of israel flights civil aviation, entrceprotecting investments , on visa free travel so now israelis and iraqis traveled to the two countries with no visas which is a big deal. basically put together in place the infrastructure for our countries trade, to travel, to do business with
each other. that was done very quickly and it's almost done. flights are coming in. we sat around for anybody who wants to do business. one of the things i see alot or i hear from the uae is the business community isexcited . we opened a brand-new market . able to ask where three or do business in israel. israelis are coming to the uae with a lot of excitement. i was talking to a young a government official a few weeks ago and they were supposed to send me papers and they said sorry sir, we apologize but we've been overwhelmed with requests and i said overwhelmed with what? the number of israeli companies calling us to setup shop has been incredibly overwhelming . we know how to respond . phase 2 is now seeing the fruits of what we put in place. people being able to access each other's markets. eventually it has to going back and forth.
eventually research programs actually produce something. talking about the space program so there's a lot of excitement both ways in both directions things outside of the policy of the political world that we can do together . >> if you go to israel what isit you want to see you've never seen before ? >> i've never been so i don't know what i'm supposed to see . the country have been off-limits for a long time finally is no longer off-limits. that's why i'm excited to go. >> what do you want to seein abu dhabi or bahrain ? >> it's breathtaking some of the pictures now that i've been invited to see formula one i suppose i should look but i think it's exciting. as yousef said, the emirates is a financial and commercial center in the region and beyond and i think bahrain we saw last year on the palestinian issue that they listed an economic conference
was important for them to see how to move this process forward. you have to countries that are forces for modernity in the region and i think when you marry what they bring to the table with what israel brings to the table, the sky is the limit and infact it will be skies . we will be going to space together i guess in the near future. >> part i most excited about is not the business opportunities or political cooperation. what i'm excited about this i grew up in egypt.ou i grew up thinking israel is the enemy and i drive by the israeli ambassador's house every day thinking you know. my 10-year-old son will be growing up thinking it's normal to visit israel, totally normal to visit. is going to grow up with a completely direct mindset than the one i grew up with and to me that's probably the most meaningful part of the abraham courts.
>> you think egypt is likely to follow suit because it hasn't invested as much in israel as was expected . do you that might change? >> i hope so and i think that the way they have welcomed and embraced this process bodes very well for the future because egypt is a very large country, on hundred million people in and it's right next door to israel. the piece was different as yousef mentioned because we've all wars with egypt certainly a cold piece is better than a half or so we would like to see that he's become a warm piece and i would think if we prove this piece is a success, if we turn this into a good model that will impact the peace israel has with egypt the impact peace israel has with jordan people want to invest in success we prove to them that this will be successful, i think you will have other partiesjoin . >> what was it like in the whitehouse september 15 ?
you get there, your leaders are, president trump is there . they serve a nice jewish delicatessen or were there selling nice delicacies after mark over they serving as food and what was it like beforeyou went out on the stage ? >> delegation angry bilateral with the president went outside to the lawn and we waitedthere for the leaders to come down and . it was just really exciting. i don't know how you felt at the time but the time did not were in the middle of creating history. i'm worried about where you're going to sit trying to take some selfie with my phone like everybody else so exciting. i'm not sure when it will be that we created history changed the dynamics in the region only we still don't understand. >> i think it's going to take years will be done on september 15 to really factor into people's houses.
>> what was it like for you and? >> same thing, it was surreal. it took time for it to sink in as we look at things and how they are progressing today, i think that the bahraini people are starting to ask questions about the israelis and vice versa. >> .. and so, all of these elements are starting to get clear to the israeli business community all and i thinkd that within the nt couple of days we will see a lot of progress that will help us as we move forward. >> thank you.
i should've mentioned president trump earlier, imagine him as being involved and if he had not been president to think this would have happened eventually? >> i don't know, you will have to leave that to historians but the fact that he confronted iran and the fact that he embraced the allies in the region to help and the fact that he did not put the palestinian nation front and center helped all of those factors i think came together and i would just tell you i was signing ceremony and to me the words that kept popping into my head was majestic. you guys really know how to put on assigning a ceremony at the whitee house bid when you're sitting there and looking at this beautiful façade of the white house,, and i was proud to be part of this historic process as well. it was 1929 was the first one all in 15 years before we had and came after the process so it was at the tail end of that but at the corner of the century it goes fromt. number two-number three and then you go from three
to four so that tells you something and the other thing i felt was very proud of prime minister benjamin netanyahu and honor to serve as an ambassador because he is somebody i who who believes in this process and for years he's been telling me we must make israel extremely strong, strong technologically, strong militarily and that will lead to diplomatic strength and then it will open to bring peace closer. i was very happy for him to be able to enjoyte this moment because so many people had criticized that policy and saying he was trying to avoid making peace and ultimately to make local decision here and he showed the leadership came together at this critical moment and we are grateful for the administration and the outgoing and administration to president trump and jared kushner into all the other people who were involved, secretary pompeo and i don't know if the word ist
happened on its own but i will tell you if they continue this policy of confronting iran and embracing those allies you will see this continue. >> final question for each of you, is covid making diplomacy harder or easier and there had been no covid with this or maybe it was made easier because you had to deal with things virtually and made it easier to not travel so much. >> as you said, with so many meetings at the white house back and forth and i think he was coming in and i was leaving so we had a lot of meetings over that five, six week time but i can tell you as an investor now that covid had less of an impact on us and i think if you were in your first year or second year before you had developed all the relationships with people i think it would be much harder but the fact that we were both here as long as we were i think enabled us to do things by phone that would otherwise be more difficult.
>> i agree with that and for those of us who been here long time and enough events and we met people it does not have a direct impact on you being able to do your job but i'm thinking of for example with the uk ambassador or sudan investor but anyone who's come in the last three, four, six months and they will have to get the lay of the land and get to know the people that will be working with and they are, faced with a handicap and will be hard to overcome. >> well, i think that again diplomacy was and always will be a face-to-face interaction and it is hard to start relationships virtually but here is the thing with those who have spent a couple years here in washington we were able to pull in folks from back home into a lot of events here because virtual means where it was challenging and so i think it
opened up a new paradigm that we are exploiting now. >> listen, i want to thank all of you for coming here and having a very nice half virtual, half in person conversation and i appreciate it and when you come back with a addition to the abraham accords, whenever that is, come back here and you are welcome back and we'll have another conversation. >> we hate to be the bearers of good news from the middle east but were thrown to be here. >> we appreciate you coming. thank you. thank you all. good day.u [inaudible conversations]
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