This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) says its agreement to normalize ties with Israel is a “sovereign decision” that is “not directed” at Iran.
“We do not accept interference in our decisions,” the U.A.E. minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said on August 17, a day after the Persian Gulf state said it had summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires in Abu Dhabi and given him a “strongly worded memo” in response to comments by Iranian President Hassan Rohani.
Israel and the U.A.E. announced on August 13 that they were establishing full diplomatic relations in a U.S.-brokered deal that included an Israeli pledge to suspend its controversial plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
The deal makes the U.A.E. the first Gulf Arab state to establish full diplomatic ties and only the third Arab nation to have active diplomatic relations with Israel.
The move was hailed by several Gulf states but slammed by Iran, Turkey, and the Palestinians.
Rohani said in a speech on August 15 that the U.A.E. had made a “huge mistake” in reaching the agreement and accused the Gulf state of betraying the Palestinian cause.
On August 16, Israel and the U.A.E. inaugurated direct telephone services between the two countries following their agreement.
And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on August 17 that his country is preparing for direct flights to the U.A.E. that would go over Saudi Arabia.