Israeli envoy joins Arab ambassadors in planting tree at UAE Embassy in Washington


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel’s ambassador to the United States and the United Nations joined a number of his Arab counterparts in planting an olive tree at the United Arab Emirates Embassy, spotlighting environmental cooperation as part of the recent normalization of ties between Israel and several Arab countries.

“Warmer relations will help get us to a cooler planet,” said Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the United States, said at Tuesday’s ceremony. “Normalization is already accelerating climate cooperation between the UAE and Israel. ”

Israel’s ambassador to the United States and to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, said he had raised regional environmental cooperation with John Kerry, the Biden administration’s climate czar who for decades has also been deeply invested in Israeli-Arab peacemaking. Kerry is a former secretary of state.

“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,” Erdan said.

The UAE and Israel are attending the Biden administration’s virtual Earth Day Climate summit convening Thursday.

Also present at the event were diplomats from Morocco and Bahrain, countries that achieved normalization agreements with Israel last year under the Trump administration-brokered Abraham Accords, as well as diplomats from Egypt and Jordan, which have longstanding peace agreements with Israel.

The White House was represented by Barbara Leaf, the top National Security Council official handling the Middle East, and Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Middle East subcommittee.

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