Home / Iran / UAE insists Israel deal not targeted at Iran, Israel extends welcomes to Saudi, Oman – UPDATED

UAE insists Israel deal not targeted at Iran, Israel extends welcomes to Saudi, Oman – UPDATED

The United Arab Emirates’ agreement to normalise ties with Israel was a “sovereign decision” that was not directed at Iran, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said on Monday.

The UAE on Sunday said it had summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires in Abu Dhabi and given him a “strongly worded memo” in response to a speech by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that the foreign ministry described as “unacceptable”.

Speaking on Saturday, Rouhani said the UAE had made a “huge mistake” in reaching a agreement to normalise ties with Israel and called it a betrayal by the Gulf state.

The U.S.-sponsored deal has been seen as firming up opposition to regional power Iran, which Gulf states, Israel and the United States view as the main threat in the conflict-riven Middle East.

“The UAE-Israeli peace treaty is a sovereign decision not directed at Iran. We say this and repeat it. We do not accept interference in our decisions,” Gargash said on Twitter.

The secretary general of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council on Sunday condemned “threats” by Rouhani and other Iranian officials towards the UAE over the accord.

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The United Arab Emirates has summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires in Abu Dhabi in response to a speech by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that the foreign ministry described as “unacceptable”, state news agency WAM said on Sunday.

Rouhani said in a speech on Saturday the UAE had made a “huge mistake” in reaching a agreement to normalise ties with Israel and called it a betrayal by the Gulf state.

“They (the UAE) better be mindful. They have committed a huge mistake, a treacherous act,” he said of the agreement announced on Thursday.

The UAE foreign ministry said the speech was “unacceptable, inflammatory, and carrying serious repercussions for the security and stability of the Arabian Gulf region”, the statement carried by WAM said.

The charge d’affaires has been given a “strongly worded memo”, WAM said.

There was no response yet from Tehran.

The UAE statement said the ministry considers Rouhani’s speech interference in UAE internal affairs and an assault on its sovereignty.

The foreign ministry reminded Iran of its duty to protect the UAE diplomatic mission in Tehran.

To protest the UAE-Israel agreement, a small group of Iranians gathered in front of the UAE embassy in Tehran late on Saturday, Iranian media reported.

The U.S.-sponsored deal has been seen as firming up opposition to regional power Iran, which Gulf states, Israel and the United States view as the main threat in the conflict-riven Middle East.

The UAE, which is home to thousands of Iranians, says it pursues a de-escalatory policy towards its neighbour Iran.

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The secretary general of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council on Sunday condemned “threats” by Iran’s president and other Iranian officials towards the United Arab Emirates over its agreement with Israel to normalise relations, the GCC said in a statement.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday the UAE has made a “huge mistake” in reaching the deal with Israel, condemning what he called a betrayal by the Gulf state.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel is preparing for direct flights, over Saudi Arabia, to the United Arab Emirates as part of its normalisation deal with the UAE.

Israel and the UAE announced on Thursday that they will normalise diplomatic relations under a U.S.-sponsored deal whose implementation could reshape Middle East politics from the Palestinian issue to the fight against Iran. The UAE would only be third Arab state in more than 70 years to establish relations with Israel.

Netanyahu, briefed at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport on plans for expanding flight activity curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, gave no time frame for the opening of an air link with the Gulf Arab country.

“We are currently working on enabling direct flights, over Saudi Arabia, between Tel Aviv and Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” Netanyahu told reporters, estimating flight time at “about three hours, just like to Rome”.

Saudi Arabia does not recognise Israel and its air space is closed to Israeli airliners. But in what was seen in Israel as a harbinger of warmer relations with Riyadh, Air India was allowed in 2018 to begin flying over Saudi territory on its New Delhi-Tel Aviv route.

At Ben-Gurion airport, Netanyahu said he saw “tremendous scope for bilateral tourism and gigantic scope for investment” with the UAE.

A delegation from Israel is expected to travel to the UAE within weeks to work out the modalities of normalised relations, but any swift opening of a commercial air route could be complicated by coronavirus restrictions.

On Sunday, the UAE opened telephone lines to Israel, a link inaugurated in a conversation between the two countries’ foreign ministers.

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Israel’s president on Monday invited the United Arab Emirates’ de facto leader to visit Jerusalem, praising his role in achieving a “noble and courageous” deal to normalise relations between Israel and the UAE.

Both countries announced on Thursday they would forge formal ties under a U.S.-sponsored deal whose implementation could recast Middle East politics ranging from the Palestinian issue to dealing with Iran, the common foe of Israel and Gulf Arabs.

The deal drew anger and dismay in much of the Arab world and Iran but a quiet welcome in the Gulf.

“In these fateful days, leadership is measured by its courage and ability to be groundbreaking and far-sighted,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin wrote in a letter to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

“I have no doubt that future generations will appreciate the way you, the brave and wise leaders, have restarted the discourse on peace, trust, dialogue between peoples and religions, cooperation and a promising future,” Rivlin wrote.

“On behalf of the people of Israel and (me) personally, I take this opportunity to extend an invitation to Your Highness to visit Israel and Jerusalem and be our honoured guest,” Rivlin said in the letter, which his spokesman released publicly.

The Palestinians have called the deal a “betrayal” by an Arab country that they have long looked to for support in establishing a state in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

“I am hopeful,” Rivlin’s letter went on, “that this step will help build and strengthen the trust between us and the peoples of the region, a trust that will promote understanding between us all.

“Such trust, as demonstrated in the noble and courageous act, will set our region forward, bring economic well-being and provide prosperity and stability to the people of the Middle East as a whole.”

Palestine Liberation Organization official Wassel Abu Youssef condemned Rivlin’s invitation, saying “the visit of any Arab official to Jerusalem through the gate of normalisation is rejected.”

Any such top-level Arab visit could be politically explosive given Jerusalem’s internationally disputed status.

Israel seized the eastern part of the city in 1967 and annexed it in a move that has not won world recognition. It considers all of Jerusalem its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of the state they seek.

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Oman’s minister of state for foreign affairs Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah spoke to Israeli foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi by phone, the Omani foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Bin Abdullah affirmed Oman’s support “to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East and the need to resume the peace process negotiations and to fulfill the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” the ministry said.

It said bin Abdullah also spoke to Jibril Rajoub, secretary general of the central committee of the Palestinian Fatah group.

Source: Reuters

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