Erdogan Says Turkey Mulling Suspending Ties With UAE Over Deal With Israel

Iran said the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE reveals 'strategic stupidity,' but UAE says it's 'encouraged' by international response

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during a political event in Ankara, August 13, 2020.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during a political event in Ankara, August 13, 2020.Credit: Adem Altan/AFP

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Turkey was mulling suspending diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates over its agreement with Israel, announced on Thursday.

Speaking to the media, Erdogan said Turkey, who has diplomatic ties with Israel, may close its embassy in Abu Dhabi and withdraw its ambassador to the Gulf state.

Earlier on Friday, the United Arab Emirate's minister of state for foreign affairs on Friday described as "encouraging" the reactions from main global capitals to its agreement with Israel.

The agreement dealt with the threat of further annexation of Palestinian territories, which had undermined chances of a two-state solution, Anwar Gargash said in a tweet.

The deal to normalize bilateral diplomatic ties, which U.S. president Donald Trump helped broker, has met with mixed global reactions.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash is seen during preparatory meeting for the GCC, Arab and Islamic summits in Jeddah, May 29, 2019. Credit: Waleed Ali/ REUTERS

Oman said it supported the UAE's decision to normalize ties with Israel, saying it hoped the accord would contribute to a comprehensive, just and sustainable peace in the Middle East. The statement by a foreign ministry spokesman, carried by state news agency ONA, called the agreement "historic."

On Thursday, White House officials said Oman and Bahrain would be the next countries to normalize relations with Israel.

It reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians. A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the deal amounts to “treason,” and should be reversed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday thanked Egyptian, Omani and Bahraini leaders for supporting the agreement, which he said "would do good for the entire region."

The Turkish Foreign Ministry, however, said that history and the conscience of the region's people will not forget and never forgive the "hypocritical behavior" of the UAE.

It said in a written statement that the Palestinian people and administration were right to show a strong reaction against the agreement, which will lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Israel.

Palestinians protest the UAE's agreement with Israel in Jerusalem, August 14, 2020.Credit: Ibrahim Sinjlawi

In Jerusalem, dozens of Palestinians were protesting at the Temple Mount, calling the UAE crown prince "a traitor" and stepping on photos of him.

Witnesses say police forces confiscated banners and prevented protesters from waving Palestinian flags.

Similar protests also took place in the Gaza Strip and in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the deal, calling it a stab in the back to Palestinians and all Muslims. It warned the UAE against Israel interfering in the “political equations" of the Gulf region.

“The UAE government and other accompanying governments must accept responsibility for all the consequences of this action,” the statement said.

Iran said in the state TV report the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE revealed the “strategic stupidity" of the two countries and said it “will undoubtedly strengthen the axis of resistance in the region.”

The agreement makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state — and the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan — to have full diplomatic ties with Israel. They announced it in a joint statement, saying deals between Israel and the UAE were expected in the coming weeks in such areas as tourism, direct flights and embassies.

The EU's executive welcome the agreement, saying it would benefit both countries and help promote stability in the Middle East. "It is important for both (countries) and for regional stability," a European Commission spokeswoman told a news briefing.

"Both countries are our partners and of course ... we are committed to a two-state solution and we are of course ready to work on a resumption of the negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians."

The European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also said he welcomed 'Israel-UAE normalisation' calling it mutually beneficial and important for regional stability in a tweet. He also wrote "Suspending annexation is positive step, plans should now be abandoned altogether. EU hopes for resumed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on 2-state solution based on intl' agreed parameters."

Germany also welcomed the step, saying it is a "starting point for positive developments in the region." "It's good that the Israeli government has suspended annexation plans," read a tweet by the German Foreign Office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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