image Photo: Reuters, Flash90

Bahrain normalizes ties with Israel

The Kingdom of Bahrain has official joined its Arab Gulf-neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, in formally normalizing its relations with the State of Israel.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who brokered the historic deal, made the announcement on Friday night – after hosting a call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain’s King Hamad Al Khalifa. Trump said that “in the spirit of peace and cooperation,” the agreement included the exchange  of ambassadors and opening of embassies, direct flights between the two countries and launching of “cooperation initiatives across a broad range of sectors, including health, business, technology, education, security and agriculture.”

After acknowledging that it took “a full 26 years from Israel’s second peace agreement with an Arab state to the third peace agreement,” Prime Minister Netanyahu exclaimed, “and now it is taking us only 29 days from the third peace agreement to the fourth -what a change!” He then expressed his “appreciation to His Majesty, the King of Bahrain, for joining the circle of peace and my appreciation for Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed from the United Arab of Emirates for working with Israel and the United States to expand the circle of peace,” and said he is “looking forward with enormous anticipation to meeting all four countries, Israel, the United States, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in this great historic moment of peace next Tuesday in Washington D.C.

Just as they did after the accord with the UAE, Palestinians once again condemned Jerusalem’s rapprochement with the Arab world with a series of protests. In Gaza, Hamas official Mahel Al-Holi compared the securing of peace with the outbreak of a pandemic, saying, “we have to fight the virus of normalization and block all paths before it succeeds and prevent it from spreading, we need to block all paths so the normalization virus – with its cancerous, Zionist, malignant germ – won’t reach the rest of the Arab, Islamic nation and affect human values.”

Speaking from the West Bank city of Jericho; Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat insisted that the Jewish State will never know peace regardless of how many other nations normalize ties if his own peoples’ demands are unmet. “As far as we, as Palestinians, are concerned, Israel can bring 193 ambassadors to Tel Aviv but then what: I am what needs to be solved, I am the problem, they are my problem, I am what needs to be solved, and the only way to have peace in this region is to solve the Palestinian question, is to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is to end the Israeli occupation.”

The PLO leader further alleged that “The Bahraini – American – Israeli agreement to normalize relations is now part of a bigger package in the region. It is not about peace, it is not about relations between countries – we are witnessing an alliance, a military alliance being created in the region, maybe you want to call it an Arab – Israel – NATO (alliance).”

Irrespective of evident Palestinian frustration, residents in the Kingdom of Bahrain voiced joy over the move. One citizen identified as Aly Abdallah told Reuters that, “There isn’t even 1% damage to the Palestinian people or anyone else. On the contrary, this will facilitate the ability for every Muslim to pray at al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem). It will be a positive decision God willing.” Resident Aayada Al-Saqry added, “That is what the Bahraini leadership envisioned under the leadership of his Highness the King, may God protect him – a correct and good decision, thank God almighty.”