TANZANIA – The United Arab Emirates didn’t need peace with Israel to counter Iran, a top UAE official said Friday, but he said Iran’s aggressive policies over three decades alarmed many Arab countries and made them look at their relationship with Israel “with fresh eyes.”
Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, acknowledged at a virtual briefing on the sidelines of the equally virtual U.N. General Assembly’s annual meeting of world leaders that this may not have been Iran’s intention. But its actions had an impact in the region, he said, though he wouldn’t speculate on whether other Arab countries would follow the UAE and Bahrain in establishing relations with Israel.
“The only thing I want to say is the more strategic the Israelis look at these relationships, the more doors will open to them,” Gargash said. “If they look at it very `transactionally', I think that it is not going to send a very good omen for normalizing relations with many of the Arab countries.”
Gargash said the UAE’s message to Israel is to “look at these opportunities and build strategically, and think long term rather than short term” — and prove wrong the countries who say that because of the Israeli political system its decision-makers think only tactically.
A month after the U.S.-brokered diplomatic agreement with Israel signed at the White House, Gargash said the two countries are negotiating “what I would call normal bilateral relations.” He said the UAE has sent several agreements to the Israelis on protecting investments, double taxation, visa exemptions and air services.
"We’re waiting for them to come back to us, because it is essential for a relationship to be built on these solid bases,” Gargash said.
Looking back at the UAE's decision to normalize relations with Israel, Gargash said the government decided it was strategically good for the country, “and will make the UAE more of a global presence."
The government also predicted the reaction “very accurately” — enthusiasm in Europe, bipartisan support in the United States and support from Russia and China and many other countries in Africa and Asia, he said.