Israel has been startled by the corona virus, but in terms of foreign policy, Prime Minister Netanyahu can show historical things: agreements with the Emirates and Bahrain. But there is also angry criticism.
With US support, Israel is expanding its relations with Arab states. After the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain also wants to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday that he had called Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.
“It was a very warm conversation. We have reached an agreement on peace between Bahrain and Israel, an official peace deal with full diplomatic relations,” said Netanyahu, who planned to travel to the US on Sunday evening. He spoke of the “beginning of a new age”. He expects a “warm peace” with Bahrain, which is also supported by the people, the head of government said.
Soon on a direct flight from Israel to Morocco?
In a solemn ceremony at the White House on Tuesday, the UAE and Bahrain plan to sign agreements to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. US President Donald Trump will welcome Netanyahu and UAE and Bahrain Foreign Ministers Abdullah bin Sajid and Abdullatif al-Sajani to his official residence in Washington.
In addition, according to an Israeli TV report, there will soon be direct flights between Tel Aviv and Morocco on Saturday. The television station N12 assessed this in response to Trump’s Middle East policy. The Israeli Foreign Ministry initially did not comment on this.
Moroccan Prime Minister Saadeddine el-Othmani had rejected an agreement in August to normalize relations with Israel regarding the rights of the Palestinians. However, he later confined that he had spoken as a party leader and not on behalf of the government.
With the agreement with Israel, the Emirates and Bahrain have departed from the Arab states’ strategy of making the resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians a precondition for normalization of relations with Israel. Lebanon, for example, refused to land a Turkish cargo plane on Friday because it had flown through Israeli airspace from Jordan.
Just and lasting peace wished
Oman, pursuing a neutral stance as “Switzerland of the Middle East”, welcomed the planned agreement on establishing diplomatic contacts between Bahrain and Israel. The sultanate expressed hope that such an agreement would contribute to the establishment of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, as announced by the state agency Ona.
Trump announced on Friday that after the Emirates, Bahrain is also looking for diplomatic relations with Israel. The Palestinians immediately spoke of “treason”. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spoke of Bahrain’s “despicable decision” to sacrifice the suffering Palestinians for Trump’s reelection. Iranian presidential adviser Diako Hosseini tweeted, “A tyrant mediates between an autocratic and an apartheid regime”. Saudi Arabia and Sudan are likely already lining up for similar agreements with Israel.
The agreements would make the UAE and Bahrain the third and fourth Arab countries, after Egypt and Jordan, to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel. In exchange for the agreement, Israel wants to suspend the planned annexation of areas in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinians are claiming for their own state.
Praise from Heiko Maas
The Kingdom of Bahrain is a close ally of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. Bahrain also has close ties with the United States. The 5th US Fleet is based there.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called the announced diplomatic relations between Israel and Bahrain “another important step towards peace in the region.” In a communication on Saturday, it said: “I am convinced that this agreement will give new impetus to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Germany and the EU are committed to the goal of a negotiated two-state solution as the basis for a solution. Just and lasting peace. ”The EU also welcomed the agreement and praised the US’s role in it.
An Israeli soldier and two Palestinians: the relationship is still under severe strain. (Source: Oded Balilty / AP / dpa)
However, the Palestinians sharply criticized the agreement. The State Department in Ramallah said the Palestinian envoy to Bahrain had been recalled for consultations.
Trump was optimistic, however, that other Arab states would follow the lead of the UAE and Bahraini – and that the Palestinians would be willing to talk.
Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa stressed in a statement Friday evening that it was necessary to achieve “a just and comprehensive peace.” He also praised the “continued efforts” with which the US had advanced the peace process. The kingdom wants to stick to the two-state solution. The UAE and Egypt welcomed the planned agreement between Israel and Bahrain and called it an “important step”.
The Palestinians have boycotted the U.S. government since Trump unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and the U.S. embassy moved there from Tel Aviv in May 2018. You accuse Trump of a one-sided pro-Israel policy.
Trump is promoting his Israel-friendly Middle East policy in the election campaign, with which he particularly wants to score points with the evangelical electorate that is important to him. She has traditionally been positive about Israel. At the same time, the US president is promoting his tough course against Israel’s nemesis Iran. The Republican is running for re-election on Nov. 3, taking on Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate for president.