Friday Aug 14 2020

Turkey threatens to sever ties with UAE post-Israel deal

Turkish President and Leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech during an event held for the AK Party's 19th foundation anniversary in Ankara, on August 13, 2020. —AFP/Adem Altan

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey could cut off its diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates after the Gulf state struck a peace deal with Israel.

"I gave an order to the foreign minister. I said we could suspend diplomatic relations with the Abu Dhabi administration or withdraw our ambassador," Erdogan told reporters.

In the deal announced on Thursday by the US, Israel pledged to suspend its planned annexation of Palestinian lands in exchange for a normalisation of ties with the UAE.

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday announced the "immediate" recall of its ambassador to the UAE in protest at the deal.

Erdogan is a strong advocate of Palestinian rights who has frequently criticised Israeli policies in the West Bank.

Earlier this year he criticised Washington's Middle East peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as "treason".

"History will not forget those who betray the Palestinian people and sell out the Palestinian cause," Erdogan's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, tweeted on Friday.

"Turkey will continue to stand by the Palestinian people."

The Turkish foreign ministry earlier described the UAE-Israel deal as a hypocritical betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

Ties between the UAE and Turkey have been strained for a long time, and have especially deteriorated over the conflict in Libya where the two countries support opposing sides.