Bahrain joined the United Arab Emirates in agreeing to normalize relations with Israel on Friday, a move forged partly through shared fears of Iran, but one that threatens to leave the Palestinians further isolated.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted the news after he spoke by phone to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said.
“This is truly a historic day,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, saying that he believed other countries would follow suit.
Joint Statement of the United States, the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the State of Israel pic.twitter.com/xMquRkGtpM— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2020
“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,” the United States, Bahrain and Israel said in a joint statement.
Another HISTORIC breakthrough today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain agree to a Peace Deal – the second Arab country to make peace with Israel in 30 days!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2020
The announcement comes one month after Bahrain’s fellow Gulf Arab State, the United Arab Emirates, agreed to normalize ties with Israel under a U.S.-brokered deal which is scheduled to be signed at a White House ceremony hosted by Trump on Sept. 15.
The Israel-UAE ceremony will be attended by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan. The joint statement said Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani would join that ceremony and sign a “historic Declaration of Peace” with Netanyahu.
On Friday, Netanyahu said Bahrain’s decision marks a “new era of peace.”
“For many long years, we invested in peace, and now peace will invest in us, will bring about truly major investments in Israel’s economy - and that is very important,” Netanyahu said in a video statement.
Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hend al-Otaiba congratulated Bahrain and Israel, saying it marked “another significant and historic achievement which will contribute enormously to the stability and prosperity of the region.”
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But Palestinians were dismayed, fearing the moves by the UAE and now Bahrain will weaken a long-standing pan-Arab position that calls for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory and acceptance of Palestinian statehood in return for normal relations with Arab countries.
“By normalizing ties with the occupation, Bahrain is breaking all Arab resolutions. It is rejected, condemned and it represents a betrayal of the Palestinian cause,” said Wassel Abu Youssef, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization official in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said Bahrain’s decision to normalize relations with Israel “represents a grave harm to the Palestinian cause, and it supports the occupation.”