Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi met his Emirati counterpart, Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Berlin on Tuesday, the first public meeting between the two senior officials since the signing at the White House of the normalisation agreements between Israel and two Gulf states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrein.
In addition to bilateral talks, the two ministers visited the Berlin Holocaust Memorial together, accompanied by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
They walked through the sombre monument, a vast undulating labyrinth of more than 2,700 grey concrete blocks spread over an area equivalent to three football fields. The memorial commemorates the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis.
In a guestbook at the Holocaust memorial, the Emirati Foreign Minister wrote a handwritten message expressing his respect for the “European Jewish victims of the Holocaust,” The Times of Israel reported.
“A whole group of humanity fell victim to those calling for extremism and hatred,” bin Zayed writes.
His visit to the memorial, he wrote, “underscored the importance of human values such as coexistence, tolerance and accepting the other…as well as respect for all creeds and faiths. These are the values upon which my country was founded.’’
“Never again,” he wrote, in both English and in Arabic.
Ashkenazi wrote that his presence at the site alongside the German and UAE top diplomats “symbolizes the start of a new era, an area of peace between nations.”
Maas called it “a great honour that the Israeli and Emirati foreign ministers picked Berlin as the site for their historic first meeting.
“The most important currency in diplomacy is trust and I am personally thankful to both my colleagues that they are placing this trust in Germany,” he said.
Bahrain and the UAE became the first Arab countries to establish relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
Maas called the agreement between Israel and the UAE as the “first good news in the Middle East for a long time – and a chance for new movement in the dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians”.
“This opportunity must be seized,” he said, voicing the readiness of the European Union to help.
The Israeli Foreign Minister last month made a visit to Berlin for a meeting with the 27 EU Foreign Ministers.