A delegation from both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain took part Monday evening in the central menorah lighting at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, in a ceremony described by the site’s chief rabbi as a “Hanukkah miracle.”
The group was made up of social activists and opinion leaders from the Gulf countries, visiting Israel as part of the Sharka Project.
Speaking before lighting the candles for the fifth night of Hanukkah, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, chief rabbi of the Western Wall, welcomed the delegations, marveling at the fact that they were able to celebrate along with Israelis in the Jewish state.
“It is a Hanukah miracle to see the delegation from the UAE and Bahrain here with us participating in the Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony,” he said. “Who would have believed that peace would come to our house in such a magnificent way?”
Israel: delegation from the UAE and Bahrain participate in a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall pic.twitter.com/n33sne79XZ
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) December 14, 2020
Earlier Sunday, President Reuven Rivlin hosted the delegation at his residence in Jerusalem.
“Peace is made between peoples and nations,” he told them. “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.”
According to a statement from the president’s office, Dr. Majid a-Sarah 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.”
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 and call came after Morocco on Thursday became the fourth Arab state this year, after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, to announce it had agreed to normalize relations with Israel.