Turkey: History won’t forgive UAE for deal; Iran pans ‘strategic stupidity’

Ankara, which itself has open ties with Israel, assails Abu Dhabi for betraying Palestinians ‘to serve its narrow interests;’ Tehran claims move will boost ‘axis of resistance’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on June 29, 2020. (Adem ALTAN / AFP)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference at the Presidential Complex in Ankara on June 29, 2020. (Adem ALTAN / AFP)

Iran strongly condemned Friday an agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize ties, blasting it as an act of “strategic stupidity” that will only strengthen the Tehran-backed “axis of resistance.”

Meanwhile Turkey, itself once a strong Muslim ally of Israel but now a geopolitical foe under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said history “will not forget and never forgive” the UAE.

The agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which was announced by US President Donald Trump on Thursday, is only the third such accord Israel has struck with an Arab state.

In it, Israel pledges to suspend plans for annexation of parts of the West Bank, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that did not mean it was abandoning plans to annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements.

The Iranian foreign ministry denounced the deal as an act of “strategic stupidity from Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv which will undoubtedly strengthen the resistance axis in the region.

“The oppressed people of Palestine and all the free nations of the world will never forgive the normalizing of relations with the criminal Israeli occupation regime and the complicity in its crimes,” a ministry statement said.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during talks in Moscow, Russia, June 16, 2020. (Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service via AP)

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

Calling “Abu Dhabi’s shameful move” dangerous, Tehran warned against any Israeli interference in the Gulf and said “the government of the Emirates and other accompanying states must accept responsibility for all the consequences” of the agreement.

In an indirect reference to its main regional rival Saudi Arabia, Iran called on rulers harming the people of Palestine and Yemen “from their glass palaces” to start correctly distinguishing “between their friends and foes.”

Turkey’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, said in a statement that the Palestinians’ strong negative response to the deal was justified.

“While betraying the Palestinian cause to serve its narrow interests, the UAE is trying to present this as a kind of act of self-sacrifice for Palestine. History and the conscience of the people living in the region will not forget and never forgive this hypocritical behavior,” it said.

Notably, though Israeli-Turkish relations are at a nadir, the country continues to maintain open ties with the Jewish state, including on tourism and trade.

Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi rebels also slammed the deal as “a move that provokes the Arab and Islamic nation.” It “proves that these countries, including the Emirates which is launching an assault against Yemen, serve the Israeli entity,” their spokesman Mohammed Abdelsalam said.

On Thursday a special adviser to the speaker of Iran’s parliament issued the first response from an Iranian official to the normalization deal, saying the agreement “serves ongoing Zionists’ crimes.”

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, an adviser on international affairs and a former deputy foreign minister, added that the UADE “will be engulfed in Zionism fire.”

Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced the agreement Thursday afternoon. They “agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” they said in a joint statement.

The deal marks the third such agreement the Jewish state has struck with an Arab country after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994).

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discusses the agreement for Israel and the UAE to establish diplomatic relations, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on August 13, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Israeli and UAE delegations will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security and the establishment of reciprocal embassies, their statement said.

“As a result of this diplomatic breakthrough, and at the request of President Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” the statement added.

The Palestinian Authority reacted with fury to the announcement, calling for the United Arab Emirates to “immediately retract” its agreement, which it called a “despicable decision.”

PA President Mahmoud Abbas called an emergency meeting in response to the agreement, while the PA recalled its ambassador to the UAE in protest over the deal.

Israel’s Arab allies — those with whom the Jewish state has signed treaties and some of those who have preferred to stay in the shadows so far — mostly hailed the agreement, including Egypt, Bahrain, and a Saudi official.

Jordan issued a more tepid statement, calling for Israel to stop “all illegal measures which undermine peace opportunities,” and enter into negotiations with the Palestinians.

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