Bahrain to normalize ties with Israel

The White House has steadily lobbied Arab Gulf states to open full diplomatic relations with Israel. Bahrain is now onboard alongside the UAE, President Trump claims more will follow.

Bahrain became the latest Arab nation to agree to normalize ties with Israel. The move comes as part of a broader diplomatic push by US President Donald Trump and his administration to fully integrate the Jewish state into the Middle East.

Trump announced the agreement on Friday, following a three-way phone call he had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

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“This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East,” Trump, Netanyahu, and King Hamad said in the statement. “Opening direct dialogue and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security, and prosperity in the region.”

Potential for ‘regional transformation’

Trump and Netanyahu both held news conferences providing details on the deal.

Trump lauded the deal’s potential for “regional transformation,” adding, “Other countries want to very much come in.” Trump outlined a brighter future for the region, saying, “The sand was loaded up with blood, now it will be loaded with peace.”

“Citizens of Israel, I am moved to be able to tell you that this evening, we are reaching another peace agreement with another Arab country, Bahrain. This agreement adds to the historic peace with the United Arab Emirates,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

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Bahrain will join the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in signing an agreement to normalize relations with Israel next week.

Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa will join Trump, Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a signing ceremony at the White House on Tuesday, Trump said.

The announcement comes after two weeks of intense lobbying on the part of the Trump Administration, particularly the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both of whom personally visited the king and the crown prince of Bahrain, urging them to open full diplomatic relations with Israel.

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Reactions: Form ‘Important step toward peace’ to ‘a stab in the back’

News of the announcement garnered approval from some, like Egyptian Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who called it an “important step” on the way to establishing, “Peace and stability in the Middle East, in a way that achieves a just and permanent settlement of the Palestinian issue.”

The UAE released a statement in which it “welcomed the decision.”

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas both condemned the deal as yet another “stab in the back to the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people”

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The Islamic Republic of Iran also condemned Bahrain’s decision “a major act of treason of the Palestinian cause.”

More to come?

When the UAE announced it would normalize relations with Israel in August, it became the first Arab state to do so in more than 20 years — on Tuesday, the UAE and Bahrain will follow in the footsteps of Egypt and Jordan. Trump has maintained that other Arab states will join as well.

Saudi Arabia has said it has no plans to pursue that route at this time — though the kingdom will now allow Israeli commercial air traffic to use its airspace.

Bahrain is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, which sent troops to help the tiny island state put down unrest that erupted there, as well as in neighboring Kuwait and the UAE during the Arab Spring. Bahrain is also home to two US military bases.

DW / Balkantimes.press

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