WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump announced on Friday a “peace deal” between Israel and Bahrain, which becomes the second Arab country to settle with its former foe in less than a month.
“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!” Trump tweeted.
A joint US-Israel-Bahrain statement said there would be “full diplomatic relations”.
Bahrain has agreed to formalise the deal with Israel at a ceremony to be held on Sept 15 at the White House, where the United Arab Emirates will also sign off on its own thaw with Israel announced in mid-August.
According to the statement, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump talked earlier in the day before announcing the breakthrough.
Manama says accord will boost regional ‘security, stability, prosperity’
At the White House Trump celebrated, calling it “a truly historic day” and “so interesting” that he was able to make the announcement on the anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks against the United States.
“When I took office the Middle East was in a state of absolute chaos,” said Trump, who faces a difficult re-election in just over seven weeks.
In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also hailed the agreement.
“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 Hebrew-language statement.
And in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, a senior official said the deal would boost regional “security, stability, prosperity.”
Until now, Israel has been able to strike only two similar peace accords with Arab countries — Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994 — and Trump is hoping that the diplomatic successes will give him badly needed momentum going into the Nov 3 election.
The Republican businessman has styled himself as the most pro-Israeli US president in history.
He has taken a string of decisions highly beneficial to Israel, from recognising disputed Jerusalem as the country’s capital to tearing up an international accord that had been meant to end Iran’s isolation in return for verified controls to ensure against militarisation of its nuclear industry.
At the same time, Trump has pushed to wind down the United States’ own military footprint in the region after decades of bloody entanglements. His earlier success in getting an Israel-UAE normalisation prompted a right-wing Norwegian member of parliament to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The UAE’s earlier announcement of a normalisation of relations with Israel broke with years of Arab League policy on the Middle East conflict but has seen pushback from the Palestinians and Iran, who both termed the deal a betrayal.
Trump, who has made crushing sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Israel’s arch foe Iran a priority of his administration, predicted however that there would be a “very positive” development in the standoff with Tehran.
“I can see a lot of good things happening with respect to the Palestinians,” he added, without giving details.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s president said he appreciates the “important step” of Israel and Bahrain establishing diplomatic relations.
The agreement would help establish “stability and peace in the Middle East, in a way that achieves a just and permanent settlement of the Palestinian issue,” President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Twitter.
Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2020