Israel President calls for 'renewable' Middle East shaped by trust

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog addresses the assembly during the World Economic Forum annual meeting, in Davos, on May 25.

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog addresses the assembly during the World Economic Forum annual meeting, in Davos, on May 25. | Photo Credit: AFP

Israel President Isaac Herzog told the global leaders, in Davos, at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting that he envisions a 'renewable' Middle East that embraces a new paradigm of tolerance, dialogue and trust.

"Together, we can shape not only a new Middle East but a renewable Middle East," he said in a special address late on May 25. "... A renewable Middle East that is sustained by its own positive momentum, joint infrastructure and shared technologies for improving the world," he said.

He added that the region can serve as a global hub of sustainable solutions in food, water and health, and as a source of energy, mostly solar, to Europe, Asia and Africa. Israel also produces natural gas from its offshore gas fields and is preparing to increase export capacity in the coming years.

"Let us harness this momentous shift to foster interpersonal dialogue, people to people, heart to heart," he said. "By working with all countries of the region, we have an opportunity to build a future of peace, prosperity and progress." Mr. Herzog pointed to the 2020 Abraham Accords as a case in point. The U.S.-brokered Accords are a series of treaties normalising diplomatic relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

Mr. Herzog was the first Israeli head of state to officially visit the UAE in January 2022. He also noted that since the Accords were signed, there has been $1 billion in trade with the UAE alone, as well as increased cooperation in science and innovation. Israel also has formal peace treaties with neighbouring Jordan and Egypt.

"We are seeing this dramatic sea change throughout the Middle East. Warm winds of cooperation, dialogue and understanding are blowing through the region," he said, adding that the change is apparent in virtually every sector and is enhancing the entire region.

This includes not only improved relations between governments but also in the private sector and civil society — from tourism to cultural exchanges, he added.

Mr. Herzog highlighted a recent delegation of Moroccan youth to Israel he met with, as well as a group of Pakistani Americans looking to promote Israel-Pakistan relations.

Despite the optimism, the region continues to experience violence and terrorism — as well as a rise of anti-Semitism in many parts of the world — which is undermining this new paradigm of trust, cooperation and stability.

"We are well aware that as this thrilling momentum grows, so does the motivation of dark forces — be they individuals, groups or radical regimes, to enflame tensions and ignite violence," he said, adding that "I truly believe that if we only choose the forces of light, the path to a drastically different, brighter future is closer than we can imagine."

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Printable version | May 26, 2022 4:07:59 pm |