Iran, Turkey Lash Out at UAE Over Deal with Israel

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This picture, taken on February 10, 2020, shows a view of the Dome of the Rock (R) and al-Aqsa Mosque (C) in Jerusalem al-Quds on a stormy day. (AFP)

BEIRUT: Iran and Turkey Friday lashed out at the United Arab Emirates over its decision to normalise diplomatic relations with Israel in a US-brokered deal, accusing it of betraying the Palestinian cause.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry called the deal a “dagger that was unjustly struck by the UAE in the backs of the Palestinian people and all Muslims”. Turkey said the peoples of the region “will never forget and will never forgive this hypocritical behaviour” by the UAE.

The UAE, which has never fought Israel and has quietly been improving ties for years, said the agreement put a hold on Israel’s plans to unilaterally annex parts of the occupied West Bank, which the Palestinians view as the heartland of their future state.

Tehran, in the foreign ministry statement on Friday, called the normalising of ties between the two countries a dangerous, “shameful” measure and warned the UAE against Israel interfering in the “political equations” of the Gulf region.

“The UAE government and other accompanying governments must accept responsibility for all the consequences of this action,” the statement said.

The move was an act of “strategic stupidity from Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv that will undoubtedly strengthen the resistance axis in the region”, it added.

“The oppressed people of Palestine and all the free nations of the world will never forgive the normalising of relations with the criminal Israeli occupation regime and the complicity in its crimes.”

Earlier President Trump’s special envoy Brian Hook said the deal is a “nightmare” for Iran.

‘Glass palaces’

In a veiled reference to its main regional rival and Emirati ally Saudi Arabia, Iran’s foreign ministry slammed rulers who harm the people of Palestine and Yemen “from their glass palaces”.

Establishing diplomatic ties between Israel and Washington’s Middle East allies, including the oil-rich Gulf states, has been central to US President Donald Trump’s regional strategy to contain Iran.

Ellie Geranmayeh, analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, argued on Twitter the normalisation is unlikely to be a “game-changer” for Iran.

She noted the Islamic Republic has long worked the assumption that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Israel have been covertly cooperating against it for years.

‘Daggar in the back’

In a deal brokered by the US, the UAE and Israel announced on Thursday they agreed to establish full diplomatic ties and Israel will delay plans for annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state.

The agreement makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state – and the third Arab country after Egypt and Jordan – to have full diplomatic ties with Israel. They announced it in a joint statement, saying deals between Israel and the UAE were expected in the coming weeks in such areas as tourism, direct flights and embassies.

The agreement delivered a key foreign policy victory for US President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election and reflected a changing Middle East, in which shared concerns about Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.

Turkey which also maintains diplomatic ties with the Jewish state reacted saying the UAE had no authority to negotiate with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians or “to make concessions on matters vital to Palestine”.

Israel, the UAE and other Gulf countries that view Iran as a threat have been cultivating closer ties in recent years. Turkey has had diplomatic relations with Israel for decades, but under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has positioned itself as a champion of the Palestinians. Turkey and the UAE support rival camps in the conflict in Libya.

Later on Friday, Erdogan said he was considering downgrading Turkey’s relations with the UAE and recalling its ambassador.

Oman, a Gulf country that has cultivated closer ties with Israel in recent years, even hosting a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year, meanwhile welcomed the agreement. The Foreign Ministry statement, carried by the state-run Oman News Agency, did not say if the sultanate would make a similar move.

Many Palestinians and Arabs took to social media to express outrage over the agreement, with some calling it a ‘new nakba (catastrophe).” 

“Israel has annexed the United Arab Emirates instead of annexing the West Bank,” a senior Palestinian official was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post. “This is a very dangerous development that requires a response not only from the Palestinians, but the whole Arab world.”

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