AL-DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates -- Jared Kushner and U.S. officials visited an air base in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, speaking to Emirati and American pilots on the tarmac, while Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the UAE's recognition of Israel "treason that will not last for long."
The U.S.-brokered deal to establish diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE reflects a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about Iran have overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians. The U.S. says the deal will promote regional peace and stability.
The U.S. delegation, headed by Kushner, arrived in the UAE on an El Al plane on Monday in the first-ever direct commercial passenger flight between the two countries. The flight followed an agreement brokered by the Trump administration last month that saw the two countries agree to establish diplomatic relations.
The Israeli delegation returned home Tuesday after a quick visit that included a series of high-level meetings, while Kushner continued on to Bahrain, where he met King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the state-run BNA news agency reported.
King Hamad "praised the steadfast, historic stances of the United Arab Emirates" in ensuring Palestinian rights, BNA said. Kushner has expressed optimism that other Arab countries will soon follow the UAE in establishing official ties with Israel, even in the absence of a peace deal with the Palestinians.
While at the base near Abu Dhabi, Kushner and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien met Emirati Maj. Gen. Falah al-Qahtani, a top defense official. Thousands of American troops work at the base.
"Our relationship has been built on trust and mutual support," al-Qahtani told reporters. "We have stood together to fight extremism in all of its forms."
O'Brien added that the U.S. expected a "significant security aspect" in the Israel-UAE normalization, without elaborating. Journalists also toured a joint command center run by both the U.S. and the UAE at the site.
Kusher shook hands with the U.S. and Emirati pilots gathered for the event. He also left a written message at the base.
"May the relationship with America continue to grow and together, through strength, will benefit as we bring more peace and prosperity to the Middle East and beyond!" he wrote.
But as the visit drew to a close, state media in Iran begin broadcasting Khamenei's remarks, which referred the UAE's recognition of Israel as a "stain" on the country.
"The United Arab Emirates committed treachery against either the Islamic world or Arab nations and regional countries, as well as Palestine," Khamenei said. "The treason will not last for long."
Both the UAE and Israel share a mutual suspicion of Iran. The UAE's day-to-day ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, long has warned about Iran's intentions, particularly its nuclear program. That's a concern shared by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Iran long has insisted its program is only for peaceful purposes.
An Emirati official dismissed Khamenei's comments.
"The path to peace and prosperity is not through incitement and hate speech," Foreign Ministry official Jamal al-Musharakh said. "That kind of rhetoric is counterproductive to peace in the region."
The UAE has touted the normalization deal as a tool to force Israel into halting its plan to annex parts of the West Bank sought by the Palestinians for their future state. It also may help the Emiratis acquire advanced U.S. weapons systems that have been previously unattainable, such as the F-35 fighter jet. Currently, Israel is the only country in the region with the stealth warplanes.
Netanyahu has denied any connection between the normalization deal and the U.S. providing advanced weaponry to the UAE.
The U.S. has said it is reviewing a longstanding UAE request for the warplanes, while remaining committed to maintaining Israel's qualitative military advantage over its Arab neighbors.
Meanwhile Tuesday, Netanyahu issued a statement saying the two countries signed an agreement on banking and finance.
"These understandings will help us advance mutual investments and broad cooperation," Netanyahu said.
Information for this article was contributed by Nasser Karimi of The Associated Press.