Home / Iran / Stormclouds gather around UAE-Israel deal – Iran, France, Palestine, Gulf

Stormclouds gather around UAE-Israel deal – Iran, France, Palestine, Gulf

Iran’s approach to the United Arab Emirates will change, the country’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri was quoted as saying on Sunday, after a deal between the Arab state and Tehran’s arch foe Israel on normalising ties.

“Tehran’s approach to the UAE will change … If something happens in the Persian Gulf region and if our national security is damaged, however small, we will hold the UAE responsible for that and we will not tolerate it,” Bagheri said.

The UAE-Israel agreement announced last week, which U.S. President Donald Trump helped to broker, is seen as aimed at bolstering opposition to regional power Iran. The resumption of peace negotiations remain a priority to reach a just solution in the Middle East, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter on Sunday. Macron said he had spoken with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. “I told him of my determination to work for peace in the Middle East,” Macron said. S

The UAE and Israeli foreign ministers held their first publicly-acknowledged call on Sunday after the Gulf state opened telephone lines to Israel as part of a normalisation of ties. Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Thursday announced their U.S.-sponsored rapprochement, which promised a boom in bilateral trade but angered Palestinians and anti-Israel powers, such as Iran.

The foreign ministers of both countries spoke by phone to inaugurate the newly-opened lines. Israel’s Gabi Ashkenazi said he and his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed agreed during the call “to meet soon”.

Israel’s Communications Ministry said UAE telecoms providers on Saturday unblocked calls to numbers with Israel’s +972 country code. Reuters made several calls from the UAE to Israel on Sunday and Israeli news websites that previously were blocked in the UAE could also be seen using UAE internet connections.

“I congratulate the United Arab Emirates on the unblocking,” Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel said on Twitter. “Many economic opportunities will now open up, and these trust-building steps are important for advancing the countries’ interests.”

The UAE’s Telecoms Regulatory Authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did the UAE’s two main telecoms operators Du (DU.DU) and Etisalat (ETISALAT.AD).

The UAE-Israel agreement says Israeli and UAE delegations will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements covering sectors including investment, tourism and direct flights and the opening of reciprocal embassies.

On Saturday, the first business deal was signed since the accord. Emirati APEX National Investment company and Israel’s Tera Group will cooperate on research and development related to COVID-19, including a testing device. The UAE foreign ministry in a statement to Reuters said the country expects an agreement on reciprocal visas, saying more details will be announced in due course.

Currently Israelis wishing to visit the UAE, and Emiratis wanting to visit Israel, can get special visas assessed on a case-by-case basis by the inviting government, spokespeople for the UAE Foreign Ministry and Israel’s Interior Ministry said.

Numerous Israeli citizens and officials have visited the UAE for sporting events and international conferences. Israel’s culture and sports minister in October 2018 came to watch Israelis compete in an international judo tournament in Abu Dhabi.

Israel is a confirmed participant at the Expo 2020 Dubai world fair, which has been postponed to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bahrain and Oman could be the next Gulf countries to follow the United Arab Emirates in formalising ties with Israel, Israel’s intelligence minister said on Sunday.

Israel and the UAE announced on Thursday that they will normalise diplomatic relations, reshaping Middle East politics from the Palestinian issue to the fight against Iran. “In the wake of this agreement will come additional agreements, both with more Gulf countries and with Muslim countries in Africa,” Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Army Radio.

“I think that Bahrain and Oman are definitely on the agenda. In addition, in my assessment, there is a chance that already in the coming year there will be a peace deal with additional countries in Africa, chief among them, Sudan,” he said.

Both Bahrain and Oman praised the U.S.-sponsored accord, but neither have commented on their own prospects for normalised relations or responded to requests for comment on the subject. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with Omani and Sudanese leaders in the past two years, including a visit to Oman in October 2018.

“I expect more countries will be joining us in the peace circle,” Netanyahu told cabinet ministers on Sunday, according to a statement from his office. “This is a historic change which advances peace with the Arab world and will eventually advance a real, sober and secure peace with the Palestinians,” he said.

The UAE-Israel deal firms up opposition to regional power Iran. The Palestinians denounced the deal as a betrayal. UAE and Israeli foreign ministers held their first publicly-acknowledged call on Sunday after the Gulf state opened telephone lines to Israel.

Israel signed peace agreements with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. But the UAE, along with most other Arab nations, has had no formal diplomatic or economic relations with it. Oman maintains friendly ties with both the United States and Iran and has previously been a go-between for the two feuding countries.

A close ally of Saudi Arabia – which has not yet commented on the UAE-Israel accord – Bahrain hosted a senior Israeli official at a security conference in 2019 as well as a U.S-led conference on boosting the Palestinian economy as part U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace initiative.

Government sources in Kuwait said its position towards Israel is unchanged, and it will be the last country to normalise relations, local newspaper al-Qabas reported.

Source: Reuters

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