Israel, Bahrain formalise diplomatic ties
Israel’s normalisation deals with the UAE and Bahrain have outraged the Palestinians for obvious reasons
Jerusalem - Israel and Bahrain are officially establishing diplomatic relations on Sunday at a ceremony in Manama as the wealthy Gulf region continues to open up to the Jewish state.
An Israeli delegation arrived from Tel Aviv for a one-day trip that will see Israel and Bahrain formalise a US-brokered agreement they signed at the White House on September 15.
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain became only the third and fourth Arab states to agree to normalise ties with Israel, following Israel’s 1979 peace deal with Egypt and a 1994 pact with Jordan.
A flurry of diplomacy between some of Washington’s key regional allies has handed US President Donald Trump a key foreign policy win as he campaigns for re-election ahead of polls in November.
Bahrain and Israel will ink a ‘joint communique (that) is the establishment of full diplomatic relations’, an official from the Israeli side, led by National Security Council chief Meir Ben Shabbat, told reporters in Manama.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s special assistant for international negotiations, Avi Berkowitz, travelled
to Tel Aviv before joining the Israeli delegation’s flight to Manama.
“Bahrain is obviously very tied to the Saudi economy and this
gives them, I’m sure, an even broader vision,” Mnuchin told reporters on the Israeli aircraft which flew over Saudi Arabia.
The two sides will be free to
open embassies in each other’s countries after a ceremony scheduled for Sunday evening, the Israeli official said, adding that an Israeli Embassy in Man
ama could open within months.
“The agreement represents a historical step... to achieve security, peace and a flourishing region,” Bahrain’s Foreign Minister,
Abdullatif al Zayani, said upon the delegation's arrival.
Israeli delegation chief Shabbat said in Arabic it was a ‘great day’, adding these relations will ‘most likely benefit both sides’.
Before takeoff, he said the aim was ‘to translate into practical plans and concrete agreements the peace declaration that was signed on the White House lawn’.
AN ISRAELI OFFICIAL
The normalisation deals with the UAE and Bahrain have however outraged the Palestinians, who have repeatedly protested and called on Arab states to maintain unity against Israel.
Like Israel, both Manama and Abu Dhabi have vehemently anti-Iran foreign policies and Tehran has slammed the normalisation.
The Gulf monarchies have broken decades of Arab consensus that there would be no relations with the Jewish state until it had made peace with the Palestinians.
Bahrain, unlike the UAE, has a history of open politics and civil society movements, although rights have been curtailed in the past decade.
In a rare display of dissent in the small oil-rich kingdom last month, dozens took to the streets in Abu-Saiba, a Shiite village near Manama, to protest the government's decision.
In the wake of the Arab Spring protests in 2011, the Sunni monarchy accused thousands of dissidents from the Shiite majority of receiving orders from Iran.
Shabbat said the visit would focus on ‘finance and investments, trade and economy, tourism, aviation, communication, culture, science, technology, agriculture and additional issues’.
Israel said it expected to sign six to eight memorandums of understanding with Bahrain.
The two sides will be free to open embassies in each other’s countries after a ceremony scheduled for Sunday evening. An Israeli Embassy in Manama could open within months