UAE, Israeli ambassadors plant tree
UAE, Israeli ambassadors plant treespokesperson

In celebration of Earth Day, the United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States and Israel’s Ambassador to the United States and the United Nations joined together yesterday (20 April 2021) to plant an olive tree and the seeds of closer cooperation to address the global climate challenge.

“Warmer relations will help get us to a cooler planet,” said Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE Ambassador to the United States. “Normalization is already accelerating climate cooperation between the UAE and Israel. These efforts in innovation, promotion and finance will help deliver the benefits of low-carbon, sustainable economic growth across the region and world.”

Israel Ambassador to the USA and United Nations Gilad Erdan said: “Now that the Abraham Accords have unlocked the tremendous potential for cooperation between our peoples, we can lead the way in developing the green technologies that will power a green economic recovery, for our countries, our region and the entire world. I believe that Israel, the UAE, and the United States, together with other Abraham Accords countries, and nations from across the Middle East, should establish a new regional forum for sustainable development, aimed at accelerating cooperation, sharing knowledge, and advancing innovative solutions to our shared challenges."

Ambassador Princess Lalla Joumala of Morocco, Ambassador Dina Kawar of Jordan, Ambassador Motaz Zahran of Egypt, and Deputy Chief of Mission Yousif Ahmed of Bahrain participated in today’s event at the UAE Embassy along with Ambassador Barbara Leaf, Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council. Also in attendance was Congressman Ted Deutch, Chairman for the Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"It is such an honor to stand here with my friends from around the Middle East and North Africa to plant an olive tree that represents the peace and growing friendship between Israel and its Arab neighbors,” said Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Particularly as we mark Earth Day, we also celebrate the endless potential for multilateral green innovations that will make our world more sustainable for future generations."

The UAE and Israel will both participate in President Joseph Biden’s Earth Day climate summit and are expected to announce, along with the United States and other countries, new cooperative initiatives on sustainable agriculture, project finance, and green technology.

“You need strong roots to nurture peace across the Middle East. This tree symbolizes the painstaking efforts of Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize their relationship and work toward peace across their region” said Ambassador Leaf, who represented the United States at today’s ceremony. “The United States looks forward to stronger cooperation with the UAE and Israel on meeting the climate challenge.”

Ambassador Erdan is working to establish a regional green forum along with other Arab states to deal with this issue. He also mentioned it in his conversation with Special Envoy John Kerry.

Along with other rapidly expanding scientific, educational and cultural links, closer climate cooperation has been a priority focus of the UAE and Israel since signing the Abraham Accord last year. This diplomatic breakthrough has enabled and encouraged universities, museums, and performing arts organizations to launch new partnerships and programs.

Across the public and private sectors, the UAE and Israel are deepening cooperation and starting new businesses in sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, water conservation and other areas. In February, Gulf-Israel Green Ventures and the UAE’s United Stars Group signed a first-of-its-kind deal that will facilitate the sharing of green technologies between the two countries.

A matching olive tree and plaque will also be planted in the garden of the Israeli Embassy.