Israel and the Gulf State of Bahrain have reached a landmark deal to fully normalize their relations, US President Donald Trump had announced. “The second Arab country to make peace with Israel in 30 days,” he tweeted. This is a diplomatic achievement for President Trump and for his son – in – law Jared Kushner, who largely brokered the agreements with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
On returning from a recent trip to the Middle East, Kushner told journalists the Trump administration had “unleashed an energy positivity” in the region that was “quite overwhelming.”
“Another historic breakthrough today!” Trump wrote on his Twitter account, adding, “Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain agree to a Peace Deal.” The POTUS also posted on Twitter a copy of a joint statement between the three leaders – Mr Trump, Mr Netanyahu and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa. “This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East” that will “increase stability, security and prosperity in the region”, the statement read.
And yes it is for the entire Arab world too. “You have to thank Trump” posters in Hebrew suddenly started appearing on mini buses in Tel Aviv, as Republican advertisements brought the race for the White House onto the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other cities of Israel. The slogan used on the posters has a double meaning, and can also mean “You have to admit. Trump 2020.”
Not to be left behind in countering, Democrats are also started targeting American – Israelis. They arranged a 40% discount with the courier service DHL for voters whose home states require overseas ballots to be sent by mail. Votes everywhere are precious as the US election approaches.
Israel is in focus because many dual nationality American – Israelis are registered in swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania, which could help decide the race one way or the other in touch and go situation. Voters are the kind everywhere, close to the Election Day for sure.
For decades, most Arab states have boycotted Israel, insisting they would only establish ties with it only after the Palestinian dispute was settled once for all. But last month the UAE agreed to normalise its relationship with Israel.
Israel has diplomatic relations with 162 of the 193 UN member states as of December 2019. Israel maintains full diplomatic relations with two of its Arab neighbours, Egypt and Jordan, after signing peace treaties in 1979 and 1994 respectively.
In 1999, Mauritania, a member of the Arab League in the North – West Africa, established diplomatic relations with Israel – but severed its ties in 2010. I hope this nation comes back to establish the relations with Israel in the near future for mutual benefit and have a win win situation.
Thirty – one UN member states do not recognise Israel, the principle being Pakistan. The US hopes to move forward with naming Qatar as a major non – NATO ally, to counter Saudi Arabia, a status that provides foreign nations with benefits in defense, trade and security cooperation. “We’re going to move ahead, we hope, with designating Qatar a major non – NATO ally,” The long myth that peace will not return to the middle east unless the Palestine issue is resolved is dead. There is clamour to sign the peace accords with Israel.
The Palestine must realise that they will be living in the fool’s paradise and they must come to face the reality – Not only has the UAE made peace with Israel, now Bahrain appears set to be joining the burgeoning Abraham Accords. But this is not nightmare. This is the present day reality and reality is telling the “Palestinians” that their narrative is collapsing. After all, they keep claiming that there won’t be peace in the Middle East until their grievances are solved forever, but it appears the Gulf States disagree.
Oman welcomed Bahrain’s decision to normalise relations with Israel, Oman State TV reported. Oman hopes initiative will lead to the establishing of ‘an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital,’ State TV channel announced.
Bahrain on Friday became the second Gulf country to normalize ties with Israel after the UAE said they would do so a month ago, moves forged partly through shared fears of Iran. “The Sultanate welcomes the initiative taken by the sisterly kingdom of Bahrain,” the channel said on its Twitter account.
A day after Trump announces a second Gulf state has agreed to establish relations with Israel, local intellectuals and rights activists blast the move. Protests were held in the region and a Palestinian man held a crossed out poster of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa during a protest against Bahrain’s move to normalise relations with Israel, Gaza, September 12, 2020 and he was immediately arrested.
Intellectuals and human rights activists in Bahrain expressed their fierce opposition to the kingdom’s move to normalise ties with Israel, saying the decision is a “betrayal” of the Palestinian people.
Israel and Bahrain announced the decision on Friday in a joint statement along with the US. The agreement was signed on Tuesday in Washington, senior officials in Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that the ministry will soon open an embassy in Manama.
Trump took time from his election campaign and was seen immensely pleased with his achievements as his boots start packing from war savaged Afghanistan before Christmas to sing carols back home. I think this vacuum may be filled by these unison states.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke on Saturday with his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al – Zayani in a phone call and “exchanged friendly talks on the occasion of the peace declaration.” The two ministers also “stressed the need to move these relations forward in all aspects in a way that serves the mutual interests and promotes peace and stability in the region,” said the Bahrain Foreign Ministry in a statement.
A Shia majority country ruled by a Sunni minority, Bahrain is experiencing more popular opposition to the deal with Israel than the UAE. After the move was announced, Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot said that “Bahrainis against normalisation” was trending high on Bahraini Twitter.
Organizations representing the Shia majority in the kingdom, which make up 70% of the Bahraini population, rejected to move to establish ties with Israel. Bahrain’s opposition umbrella group, the al – Wefaq political association, condemned the move and called it “betrayal.” In addition, the group said that the Bahraini regime is illegitimate, dubbing Israel an illegitimate entity.” The organization, which is illegal in Bahrain, but is very influential there, said in a statement that it opposes the normalization with Israel due to its support for the Palestinian people.
Furthermore, President of Bahrain Forum for Human Rights Baker Darwish said that the Bahraini people view “Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,” adding that “any normalization with Israel is betrayal.” Meanwhile, Palestinians in Gaza burnt pictures of Israeli, US, Bahraini and UAE leaders. The Gaza protest, attended by a few dozen, was organized by the ruling Islamist Group Hamas. “We have to fight the virus of normalization and block all its paths before it succeeds, to prevent it from spreading,” said Hamas official Maher al-Holy.
Immediately after the deal was announced by Trump, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki recalled the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to Bahrain, citing a “dangerous violation of the Arab Peace Initiative” and “threat to Palestinian rights.” An official statement by the PLO condemned the deal as supporting “the legalization of Israel’s ugly crimes against the Palestinian people.”
Palestinians fear 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 the Palestinian statehood in return for normal relations with Arab countries.
On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Abdallah Hamdok, the Prime Minister of Sudan’s transitional government, offering American aid in responding to the mass floods that have hit the country and saying the White House hopes Sudan will be the next to join the so – called Abraham Accords between Israel and Arab states.
The agreements will likely be seen as a further setback to the Palestinians who tried unsuccessfully to have the Arab League condemn normalization with Israel until they have secured an independent state. That was one of the few cards still held by Palestinians in negotiations as peace talks remain stalled.
Also denouncing the decision, Iran said that Bahrain’s move to normalize relations with Israel meant it would be complicit in Israeli policies which threatened regional security, Iranian state TV reported. Iran’s foreign ministry said that it would hold the governments of Bahrain and its allies responsible for any insecurity caused by Israel in the Gulf region. “Bahrain’s shameful move sacrifices the PLO cause and decades of struggle at the expense of the US election,” Iranian TV quoted a foreign ministry statement as saying. “An oppressive regime (Bahrain) and a city-state (UAE) have decided to establish a full diplomatic relationship with an apartheid regime (Israel) by the mediation of a bully (Donald Trump),” Diako Hosseini, Adviser to the presidential office in Tehran, wrote on Twitter.
Covid – 19, economic crises, the Beirut blast, public anger at Hezbollah, a pipeline and a railway, the UAE and Bahrain are all pushing Lebanon towards the unthinkable. Covid-19, the normalisation deals between Israel and both the UAE and Bahrain and the massive blast in Beirut are not connected by causation.
But taken together, in concert with other events shaking the Middle East, this series of events could trigger a new era in the Arab – Israeli conflict, focused on the once – unthinkable possibility of relations between Israel and Lebanon. In fact, what the UAE and Bahrain are saying (and Oman and Saudi Arabia as well) is that they are tired of paying homage to a false narrative they have been dragged into supporting to the now defunct pan – Arab movement.
These Gulf States have little similarities to the “Palestinian” Arabs in the Levant. The Gulf countries are ruled by clans that have been in that area for centuries, if not more. While the “Palestinian” Arabs are an amalgamation of migrant workers who moved from the former Ottoman region about 120 years ago. Sure, there are villages in Judea and Samaria that are older, but most these can be traced to Jewish villages that were forcibly converted by those Muslims arriving in the Land of Israel more than 1300 years ago.
White House bullet points suggest how Trump will be framing his international dealmaker credentials for his election campaign: as a harbinger of Middle East peace and prosperity, with more Arab and Muslim countries likely coming on board to normalise relations with Israel. This will allow Trump to deflect attention from the “Deal of the Century” that he failed to achieve: Israeli – Palestinian peace.
That project was widely criticized as heavily slanted in Israel’s favor and rejected by the Palestinians. Focusing outward is the Trump administration’s way of telling the Palestinians they can no longer dictate the region’s relations with Israel. Essentially, the “Palestinians” have little leverage anymore. Their leadership knows it and so does the Western world.
Usually, when international accords are signed, new set of Mont Blanc pens are used and then they are packed in the same boxes as history is made and then they are kept for the future generations to visualise the sacrifices, which their fore fathers made for them.
The ink on the recent Abraham Accords has not dried up, and another good news arrives the horizon. While 2020 has been one of the most chaotic years in the modern era, President Trump has truly done the unthinkable, despite the situation. The fourth historic peace deal between Israel and a former Muslim enemy is now at hand. That’s right, Israel and Sudan are making peace.
I have a feeling US will have to order 3 more set before 3rd November, 2020. Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Oman. Insha Allah.