The United Arab Emirates, Israel and the United States launched a working group dedicated to promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue. The inaugural meeting of the Trilateral Religious Coexistence Working Group took place on Monday in Dubai. 

The team, led by Israeli Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern, Emirati Health Minister Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya, will also focus on countering religious intolerance and hatred.

The group will support a range of initiatives in the fields of education, youth programming and religious coexistence. Some projects are expected to be launched later this year in coordination with governments, established organizations, dedicated philanthropies and dynamic leaders across the region, according to Stern’s office. 

The religious working group is another direct outcome of the historic Abraham Accords. Its establishment was announced last October at the first trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of all three countries.

The declaration of the Abraham Accords, signed in September 2020, encouraged “efforts to promote interfaith and intercultural dialogue to advance a culture of peace among the three Abrahamic religions and all humanity.”

On Monday, Al Owais said that “the Abraham Accords have become the most important force for positive change in the Middle East.”

“To realize their full potential, we must reverse long-held mistrust, misconceptions and misgivings about one another. We must find new ways to encourage people-to-people engagement that bridges religions, cultures and nationalities,”  he said.

The initiative went forward even as Israel seems to be entering a new wave of terror attacks by Palestinians. 

“The murderous terror attack in Hadera is just another example of the importance of pressing forward with the initiative led by the foreign ministers as part of the Abraham Accords to promote tolerance, coexistence and peace,” Stern said.

“Tolerance and coexistence are the paths to our shared humanity and peace,” Stern continued. “The Abraham Accords have shattered long-standing paradigms and now it is our duty to build on them and widen the circle of peace, regionally and globally, through these meetings of the Abrahamic faiths to send a clear message of reconciliation, acceptance and inclusion.”

Zeya noted that “the Abraham Accords represent one of the most significant strategic shifts over my three decades of diplomacy in this region and bring clear-cut benefits not just to the countries and peoples concerned, but to the rest of the world as well.”

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