Following the example of the United Arab Emirates last month, Bahrain became the fourth Arab state to formalize relations with the Jewish state of Israel. The decision was met much to the chagrin of the Palestinian Arabs who had demanded a separate state before any reconciliation with Israel. Earlier Egypt and Jordan had reached a pact with Israel in 1979 and 1994 respectively.
The two countries consummated their ties by signing a joint communique during a visit by a Israeli and US delegation to the Bahraini capital of Manama. The Israeli delegation was accompanied by officials from the United States led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The United States has a strong interest in the deal as it wants to project an anti-Iran alliance across the whole Middle East consisting of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and other countries.
After the signing ceremony with his Israeli counterpart Bahraini Minister for Foreign Affairs Abdullatif al-Zayani said, “It was indeed an historic visit, to start opening relations between both countries.” In return Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat labelled the step as a “promising beginning”. He also said that his delegation was accepted “with open arms, with warmth and cordiality”.
The move by the two states will go a long way in the reconciliation process between Israel and the Arab countries in the region and has come at a time when the hostility between Iran and the Arab kingdoms led by Saudi Arabia has reached a peak. It needs to be mentioned that Iran and Saudi Arabia (backed by UAE, Bahrain and other countries) are engaged in a proxy war across the whole region whether it is in Syria, Yemen, Iraq or other countries.
The two countries had signed the Abraham Accords at a ceremony at the White House on September 15. No wonder, the accord has drawn protests from Bahrainis living in or abroad. The majority of the Bahraini population is Shia while a Sunni minority rules the country. The government has justified the deal by saying that it protects its interests vis-à-vis Iran.
Talking about the peace of the region, Al-Zayani said that engagement and cooperation with Israel is the key to achieve lasting harmony in the Gulf. He said that his country always supported resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a dialogue.