Neighbors, Friends, and Embassies—Historic Firsts with the UAE and Honduras

Last Thursday, Honduras became the 4th nation to move its embassy to Jerusalem. This week, Israel Foreign Minister Yair Lapid inaugurated Israel's embassy in the UAE. This marks the first diplomatic visit to the Gulf State nation since the historic Abraham Accords last year.

"We are standing here today because we chose peace over war, cooperation over conflict, the good of our children over the bad memories of the past," Lapid said. "Agreements are signed by leaders, but peace is made by people.

At the ceremony inaugurating the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi, Lapid made special mention of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's great contributions to bring about the Accords. Netanyahu had intended to visit the UAE soon after the Accords were signed, but travel restrictions from coronavirus, a health issue with his wife, and diplomatic troubles with Jordan prevented him from making the trip a reality.

Lapid also thanked former US President Donald Trump and current US President Joe Biden.

"Israel wants peace with all its neighbors. We aren't going anywhere. The Middle East is our home. We're here to stay. We call on all countries of the region to recognize that and come talk to us."

Noura Al Kaabi, the Emirati Culture Minister, also attended the ceremony. She said she hoped this was the first of many visits between high-level officials of both governments. "It is essential that we prepare ourselves and our children toward a new world."

Israel and the UAE have already begun collaborative ventures in artificial intelligence, smart cities, tourism, and in dealing with the pandemic.

Lapid also planned to attend the inauguration of Israel's consulate in Dubai and the Dubai Expo 2020 world trade fair while he is in the country.

Lapid, the architect for Israel's new government, is quickly making a name for himself as an ambitious (in the good sense) foreign minister. He hit the ground running, and Israelis are giving him high marks.

Another embassy made history last Thursday when Honduras moved its embassy to Jerusalem, becoming the 4th nation to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"It's a unique day in our history, and this is a recognition from our people to the people of Israel…this is a day of commitment, so the next generation of Hondurans keep this embassy in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel," said Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett thanked President Hernandez and the people of Honduras for their courage to stand with Israel by acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.

"Mr. President, Honduras under your leadership stands consistently with Israel in the international institutions when it is not always popular, and sometimes it comes with a cost, and this is evidence of the friendship and willingness to take action, including paying a price, and I want to thank you and the public in Honduras for this support."

Hernandez gave "thanks to God" for allowing him to be president at such a time in history, to be able to move the Honduran embassy to Jerusalem.

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