Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the United Arab Emirates is a democracy and, along with Israel, one of the most advanced societies in the world.
While Israel has democratic elections, the UAE is a federation of seven constituent monarchies.
Netanyahu gave an unprecedented interview on Monday to the Abu Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia, in which he talked about the normalization of ties with the UAE, which was announced last week.
Speaking of the “tremendous” benefits of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Netanyahu said they “bring together Israel and the leading Arab state, I would say the leading country in the world, and these two democracies, these two advanced societies, perhaps the most advanced societies in the world, are now helping each other.”
A video of the interview was posted to Netanyahu’s official Twitter feed, but then taken down shortly afterwards, Haaretz reported Tuesday.
— سكاي نيوز عربية (@skynewsarabia) August 17, 2020
According to the US-based Freedom House democracy research group, the UAE is considered “not free” and scores 17 out of 100 on its freedom index, alongside Iran and Chad.
The UAE system of political rights scores 5 and its civil liberties 12.
Israel scores 76 on the freedom index with 33 for political rights and 43 for civil liberties.
A 2019 Amnesty International report found that UAE authorities “subjected detainees, including foreign nationals, to arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and enforced disappearance.”
A Human Rights Watch report for 2019 found that “UAE authorities have launched a sustained assault on freedom of expression and association since 2011. The UAE arbitrarily detains and forcibly disappears individuals who criticize the authorities within the UAE’s borders.”
Regarding women’s rights, HRW found that “UAE law permits domestic violence” and that a 2010 law “sanctions husbands’ beating and infliction of other forms of punishment or coercion on their wives, provided they do not leave physical marks.”
In October 2018, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the UAE for its treatment of human rights defenders.
Sex outside of marriage and the consumption of alcohol by Muslims are both punishable with lashes in the UAE. Women have been imprisoned after reporting rape because it amounted to sex outside of marriage.
Freedom of speech is limited and it is prohibited to criticize the government or the royal family, or form unions. Women need the approval of a male guardian to marry or remarry.