A senior United Arab Emirates official on Tuesday shot back at the Palestinian ambassador to France, who had attacked Abu Dhabi over its establishment of formal relations with Israel.
In an interview with French magazine Le Point, Salman El Herfi fired several unusually harsh salvos at the UAE and at Bahrain, another Gulf state currently in the process of normalizing relations with Jerusalem, including saying these countries “have become more Israeli than Israel” and are violating the charter of the United Nations.
“I was not surprised by the statements made by the Palestinian Ambassador to Paris, and his ungrateful discussion of the Emirates,” Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, wrote in Arabic on his Twitter account.
“We have grown accustomed to the lack of loyalty and the ingratitude. We proceed toward the future confident in all our actions and beliefs,” he added.
لم يفاجأني حديث السفير الفلسطيني لدى باريس وتناوله الجاحد للإمارات، تعودنا قلة الوفاء ونكران العرفان، ونمضي واثقين نحو المستقبل بخطواتنا وقناعاتنا.
— د. أنور قرقاش (@AnwarGargash) October 13, 2020
In the Le Point interview, El Herfi said that the UAE had long abandoned the Palestinian cause and that he wasn’t surprised by Abu Dhabi’s decision to normalize ties with Israel in August.
“The only new thing was the formalization of this relationship. I thank them for having revealed their true face,” he said of the UAE leadership.
“The truth is that the Emirates were never at the Palestinians’ side,” he went on, charging that the UAE froze aid for the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1985.
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is merely “a little dictator who wants to become known, and he’s playing with fire,” the veteran Palestinian diplomat said. The UAE’s de facto leader “surrendered to Israel without a fight,” El Herfi added.
He also accused the UAE and Bahrain of violating a long list of Arab League and UN resolutions, even going as far as saying they violated the UN charter by normalizing relations with Israel.
“In fact, these two countries have come more Israeli than the Israelis,” El Herfi charged. “But we have full confidence in the fact that their people will not accept this over the long term.”
El Herfi, who served as Palestinian ambassador to Tunisia before he arrived in Paris, went on to say that he doubts that other Arab countries will normalize relations with Israel. He denounced Abu Dhabi’s and Manama’s moves as “pure propaganda” that was not endorsed by any parliament and hence does not enjoy public support.
“And with all due respect, how many Emiratis are there in the world, 800 thousand? And Bahrainis, 500 thousand? There are 340 million Arabs,” he said.
Relations between the UAE and the Palestinians have been tense ever since the Emirates announced their historic normalization agreement with Israel on August 13.
On September 15, UAE Assistant Minister for Cultural and Public Diplomacy Omar Saif Ghobash told The Times of Israel that the Palestinians “need to want to help themselves as well, and perhaps instead of using the traditional criticisms and curses, they actually look at what we are trying to do.”
On September 7, Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai’s deputy head of police and general security, slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for “creating problems” and urged Arab nations to ignore Ramallah’s criticism of the UAE’s normalization process with Israel.
“Rid yourselves of this notion that you don’t build relations with Israel except at the command of Mahmoud Abbas,” he wrote on Twitter.