UAE dismisses Turkey’s criticism of Israel agreement as 'double standard'

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Saturday dismissed criticism from Turkey’s president over its new agreement with Israel and said its decision to normalise ties with Israel was not about countering Iran.

Criticism levelled at the Gulf country by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over its agreement with Israel is a “double standard” which overlooks Turkey’s own significant trade links with Israel, Al Arabiya quoted Anwar Gargash, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, as saying in a phone interview.

On Friday, Erdoğan said Ankara may recall its ambassador from the UAE over the U.S.-sponsored deal and suspend diplomatic relations with the Gulf country. The president’s remarks arrived hours after the Turkish Foreign Ministry said history would never forgive the UAE’s “hypocritical behaviour” in agreeing to normalise relations with Israel.

“They (Turkey) receive over half a million Israeli tourists, have $2 billion worth of bilateral trade and an existing embassy there. And I ask myself whether this is a principled position or not,” Gargash said.

Gargash also dismissed claims that the accord announced by U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday was meant to create a joint alliance against Iran.

“This is not about Iran. This is about the UAE, Israel and the United States,” he said.

According to the deal, the UAE will recognise the state of Israel and establish formal diplomatic relations, while Israel would halt its controversial plan to annex swathes of the Palestinian West Bank.

The UAE is the third Arab country and the first in the Gulf to recognise Israel’s sovereignty.