Iran and Turkey denounce UAE over deal with Israel
Iran and Turkey have accused the United Arab Emirates of abandoning Palestinians, a day after the Gulf state announced it would become the third Arab country to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel.
Iran’s foreign ministry denounced the Washington-brokered deal as an act of “strategic stupidity from Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv” and said it was a “dagger … unjustly struck by the UAE in the backs of the Palestinian people and all Muslims”.
Hostility towards Iran shared by Israel and several Middle East states has been a critical factor in their budding relations in recent years, boosted by Washington’s attempts to gather a coalition of autocratic Arab leaders against Tehran and its allies.
The new alliance has broken the status quo in which Israel was mostly isolated by its neighbours as a pariah.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has increasingly styled himself as the Palestinians’ lone regional champion, despite his country having had diplomatic relations with Israel for decades.
After the Trump administration published a “vision for peace” in January, Erdoğan said Turkey would never accept the proposals and accused Arab Gulf nations of betraying the Palestinian cause.
In response to the UAE deal, Turkey’s foreign ministry said: “History and the conscience of the people living in the region will not forget and never forgive this hypocritical behaviour.”
Jordan, which with Egypt was the only other Arab state to have recognised Israel before Thursday’s announcement, issued a statement acknowledging the deal without praising it.
“The effect of the agreement … will be linked to what Israel will do,” said the Jordanian foreign minister, Ayman Safadi. If no progress was made towards a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, “the conflict will deepen [and] explode as a threat to the security of the entire region”, he said.
The Jordanian ruler, King Abdullah II, has been a prominent critic of the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Thursday’s deal appeared to at least temporarily suspend annexation, but Amman said more progress on the Palestinian issue was needed.
“[The annexation freeze] must be followed by Israel by stopping all its illegal measures that undermine peace opportunities and its violations of Palestinian rights,” Safadi said.
Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has said another Arab country is likely to establish ties with Israel in the coming days. Bahrain and Oman, which both welcomed the UAE move, are seen as likely candidates.
Donald Trump’s announcement on the UAE appeared to have blindsided the Palestinian leadership and their allies. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, suggested he had no forewarning of it.
“The Palestinian leadership rejects and denounces the UAE, Israeli and US trilateral, surprising, announcement,” said his spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, adding that it was a betrayal of Jerusalem and the Palestinian cause.
Elsewhere the deal has been widely welcomed, in large part because under the agreement Israel has temporarily suspended its plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank – a piece of land claimed by Palestinians for a future state.
The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, called the accord “hugely good news”. He said: “It was my profound hope that annexation did not go ahead in the West Bank, and today’s agreement to suspend those plans is a welcome step on the road to a more peaceful Middle East.”
Even Trump’s opponent in November’s US election, Joe Biden, said the UAE’s move was “a welcome, brave, and badly needed act of statesmanship” that would help ensure Israel remains an “integral” part of the Middle East.
“Annexation would be a body blow to the cause of peace, which is why I oppose it now and would oppose it as president,” Biden said.
The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, said annexation “would effectively close the door for a renewal of negotiations and destroy the prospect of a viable Palestinian state and the two-state solution”.
However, annexation is only suspended, and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said there is no change to his plans.
Anshel Pfeffer, an Israeli journalist and author of a Netanyahu biography, wrote in the Haaretz newspaper that the Israeli leader had won a significant diplomatic coup while giving nothing to the Palestinians, previously seen as a requisite for regional acceptance.
“It is an achievement for Netanyahu that his predecessors who were prepared to make major concessions to the Palestinians only dreamed of,” he said. “A generation of western diplomats who thought that Israel needs to pay in hard currency for any such breakthrough with the Arab world were tearing their hair out last night.”