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Preparing for coexistence: Israel’s interfaith group meets for first time

July 21, 2022

'The goal is to take the big message of the Abraham Accords and bring it to the level of the people'

Dozens of Israeli officials convened in Jerusalem on Tuesday as part of a trilateral religious, coexistence working group between Israel, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates aimed at expanding interfaith dialogue.

Ever since the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020, the UAE and Israel have been working together to promote cultural understanding and counter religious intolerance. 

Meeting for the first time since being announced in October 2021, the Israeli working group is working to bring that vision to life, and to create pathways to coexistence via people-to-people connections.

“The goal is to take the big message of the Abraham Accords – cooperation – and to bring it to the level of the people and education systems,” Israel’s Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern told i24NEWS.

“This is one of the biggest challenges that arose from the Accords, but also one of the biggest opportunities.”

A daunting challenge that arose from the meeting earlier this week was how to bring catchy slogans and big ideas to the level of the people, so that bridges can be built among mixed cultures.

There are other challenges too – a recent survey by the Washington Institute showed that more than two-thirds of respondents in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE view the Abraham Accords in a negative light.

But Stern, whose intelligence ministry is spearheading the Israeli working group, isn’t concerned.

“This only emphasizes the importance of these initiatives. In many things, there's initial enthusiasm and then a drop. Our job is to raise that support.”

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