UAE, Bahrain Delegations Join Western Wall Hanukkah Lighting Ceremony

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Western Wall Heritage Foundation

A delegation from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain joined a Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday night, in what was hailed by the holy site’s chief rabbi as a “Hanukkah miracle.”

“Who would have believed that peace would come to our home in such a glorious way? It is a Hanukkah miracle to see a delegation from the Emirates and Bahrain that is taking part in the candle-lighting,” Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch said at the ceremony.

A day earlier, President Reuven Rivlin hosted the delegation at his residence in Jerusalem.

“Peace is made between peoples and nations,” he told the group. “Your visit here is another step in the path of building warm relations between our countries. I wish you a successful visit and I am glad to meet you here in Jerusalem.”

Dr. Majid Al Sarrah from the University of Dubai, one of the leaders of the delegation, said in response: “To visit Israel for the first time as part of a delegation is a historic moment. Israel is a prime example of tolerance in the region. This is a new era of peace and stability between peoples.”

According to a statement from the president’s office, the delegation, led by Amit Deri of the Sharaka Project, are social activists and opinion leaders from Israel, Bahrain and the UAE, who created the project, which means cooperation in Arabic, to bring together citizens of the countries. Sharaka aims to strengthen familiarity with the State of Israel in the Arab world, and to create cooperation between young people in Israel and Arab states.

Mashaal a-Shamri from Bahrain was quoted as saying: “As a Bahraini woman visiting Israel, it is a great honor for me to meet the president. We see Israel as a place of peace, success and coexistence.”

The visit came after Morocco became the fourth Arab state this year, after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, to join the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords and agree to normalize ties with Israel.

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