Arab Times

Bahrain, Is­rael set ties

Saudi ac­qui­es­cence seen key; Iran con­demns move

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WASH­ING­TON, Sept 12, (AP): Bahrain on Fri­day agreed to nor­mal­ize re­la­tions with Is­rael, be­com­ing the lat­est Arab na­tion to do so as part of a broader diplo­matic push by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his ad­min­is­tra­tion to fur­ther ease the Jewish state’s rel­a­tive iso­la­tion in the Mid­dle East and find com­mon ground with na­tions that share US wari­ness of Iran.

Trump an­nounced the agree­ment on the 19th an­niver­sary of the Sept 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks fol­low­ing a phone call he had with Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khal­ifa. The three lead­ers also is­sued a brief joint state­ment mark­ing the sec­ond such Arab nor­mal­iza­tion agree­ment with Is­rael in the past two months.

The an­nounce­ment came less than a week be­fore Trump hosts a White House cer­e­mony to mark the es­tab­lish­ment of full re­la­tions be­tween Is­rael and the United Arab Emi­rates, some­thing that Trump and his Mid­dle East team bro­kered in Au­gust. Bahrain’s for­eign min­is­ter will at­tend that event and sign a sep­a­rate agree­ment with Ne­tanyahu.

“There’s no more pow­er­ful re­sponse to the ha­tred that spawned 9/11 than this agree­ment,” Trump told re­porters at the White House.

Fri­day’s agree­ment is an­other diplo­matic win for Trump less than two months be­fore the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and an op­por­tu­nity to shore up sup­port among pro-Is­rael evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians. In ad­di­tion to the UAE deal, Trump just last week an­nounced agree­ments in prin­ci­ple for Kosovo to rec­og­nize Is­rael and for Ser­bia to move its em­bassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

But, it is a set­back for Pales­tinian lead­ers, who have urged Arab na­tions to with­hold recog­ni­tion un­til they have se­cured an in­de­pen­dent state. The Pales­tini­ans have seen a steady ero­sion in once-uni­fied Arab sup­port — one of the few cards they still held as lever­age against Is­rael — since Trump be­gan pur­su­ing an un­abashedly pro-Is­rael agenda.

“This is an­other stab in the back of the Pales­tinian cause, the Pales­tinian peo­ple and their rights,” said Wasel Abu Yousef, a se­nior Pales­tinian of­fi­cial. “It is a be­trayal of Jerusalem and the Pales­tini­ans ... We see ab­so­lutely no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for this free nor­mal­iza­tion with Is­rael.”

In their joint state­ment, Trump, Ne­tanyahu and King Hamad called the agree­ment “a his­toric break­through to fur­ther peace in the Mid­dle East.”

“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,” they said.

Like the UAE agree­ment, the Bahrain-Is­rael deal will nor­mal­ize diplo­matic, com­mer­cial, se­cu­rity and other re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries. Bahrain, along with Saudi Ara­bia, had al­ready dropped a pro­hi­bi­tion on Is­raeli flights us­ing its airspace. Saudi ac­qui­es­cence to the agree­ments has been con­sid­ered key to the deals.

Iran on the other hand, strongly con­demned Bahrain’s plan to nor­mal­ize re­la­tions with Is­rael, call­ing it a shame­ful and ig­no­min­ious move by the Gulf Arab coun­try.

In a state­ment, Iran’s For­eign Min­istry said Bahrain’s nor­mal­iza­tion “will remain in the his­tor­i­cal mem­ory of the op­pressed and down­trod­den peo­ple of Pales­tine and the world’s free na­tions for­ever.”

Iran’s para­mil­i­tary Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard also de­nounced Bahrain’s move us­ing sim­i­lar lan­guage, call­ing it a be­trayal of the Pales­tinian peo­ple and a “threat to se­cu­rity in West Asia and the Mus­lim world.”

Trump’s son-in-law and se­nior ad­viser Jared Kush­ner noted that the agree­ment is the sec­ond Is­rael has reached with an Arab coun­try in 30 days af­ter hav­ing made peace with only two Arab na­tions — Egypt and Jor­dan — in 72 years of its in­de­pen­dence.

“This is very fast,” Kush­ner told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “The re­gion is re­spond­ing very fa­vor­ably to the UAE deal and hope­fully it’s a sign that even more will come.”

Ne­tanyahu thanked Trump. “It took us 26 years be­tween the sec­ond peace agree­ment with an Arab coun­try and the third, but only 29 days be­tween the third and the fourth, and there will be more,” he said, re­fer­ring to the 1994 peace treaty with Jor­dan and the more re­cent agree­ments.

Bahrain’s for­eign min­istry wel­comed the deal and said that Hamad had praised US ef­forts to es­tab­lish se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity in the Mid­dle East, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial news agency. Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khal­ifa, a prom­i­nent Bahraini ad­viser to the king and the for­mer long­time for­eign min­is­ter, wrote on Twit­ter that the agree­ment boosts the re­gion’s se­cu­rity and pros­per­ity.

 ??  ?? From left: US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khal­ifa, Bahraini Crown Prince Sal­man bin Hamad Al Khal­ifa meet at the Sakhir Palace in Manama, Bahrain on Aug 26, 2020. Pom­peo held closed-door meet­ings Wed­nes­day with Bahrain’s royal fam­ily and top of­fi­cials in the United Arab Emi­rates
amid the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s push for Arab na­tions to rec­og­nize Is­rael. (AP)
From left: US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khal­ifa, Bahraini Crown Prince Sal­man bin Hamad Al Khal­ifa meet at the Sakhir Palace in Manama, Bahrain on Aug 26, 2020. Pom­peo held closed-door meet­ings Wed­nes­day with Bahrain’s royal fam­ily and top of­fi­cials in the United Arab Emi­rates amid the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s push for Arab na­tions to rec­og­nize Is­rael. (AP)

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