Manama – An official Israeli delegation arrived in Bahrain on Sunday to sign a document establishing diplomatic relations with the Arab Gulf monarchy, a month after the White House signed a normalization agreement between the two countries.
The Israeli delegation and representatives of Bahrain will sign in the evening in Manama “a joint communiqué on the establishment of full diplomatic relations“, which will allow the opening of embassies, an Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity. An Israeli embassy is scheduled to open in the coming months, he said.
The standardization agreement “represents an important historic step forward in achieving security, peace and prosperityBahrain Foreign Minister Abdellatif al-Zayani said at Manama International Airport.
“This great day will make peace a reality. These relations will benefit both parties in various fields“, assured by his side the adviser to the Israeli national security, Meir Ben-Shabbat, who spoke in Arabic.
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Arab monarchy of the Gulf where the 5th American Fleet sits, the small kingdom of Bahrain has become the fourth Arab country to normalize relations with Israel.
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, another Arab Gulf monarchy, separately signed agreements with Israel on September 15 formalizing normalization in a ceremony at the White House.
Prior to these two countries, Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, ending the state of war with these neighboring Arab states.
– Economic cooperation –
The normalization agreements with Bahrain and the Emirates have been denounced by the Palestinians as a “treason“, whereas the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was until then considered as a sine qua non for a normalization between Israel and the Arab states.
Prior to his departure from Tel Aviv, Ben-Shabbat said the meetings in Bahrain had “the objective of translating the agreements signed at the White House into concrete programs“, especially in the economic, tourism, aviation and technology fields.
Coming to Manama with the Israeli delegation, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin focused on the “opportunity“What, according to him, these agreements represent for the economies of the countries concerned, in particular in the field of technologies, in a statement to journalists during the flight.
The Emirates and Bahrain have never been in conflict with the Jewish state. But they share with Israel an animosity towards Iran, the number one enemy of the United States in the region.
Ruled by a Sunni monarchy, Bahrain accuses Shiite Iran of being the source of sporadic unrest in the kingdom since 2011, when the authorities cracked down on protests by its Shiite community demanding reform.
Normalization with Israel has sparked protests in Shiite villages across the kingdom.
– Facing Iran –
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that other Arab countries could establish official relations with Israel, believing that these states are now prioritizing the economic aspect rather than resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which has lasted for more than 50 years. .
The US administration of Donald Trump is trying to convince other Arab countries to move closer to Israel, a close ally of Washington.
Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped Saudi Arabia, the leader of the Gulf Arab monarchies and Iran’s rival in the region, “would consider normalizing his relationships“with Israel.
According to him, the agreements with the Emirates and Bahrain “reflect changes in the dynamics of the region“. “These countries rightly recognize the need for regional cooperation to counter Iranian influence and foster prosperity.”
A recognition of Israel by Saudi Arabia would be a real turning point in the Middle East. But the kingdom has made it clear that it will not follow the example of the Emirates and Bahrain, who have broken a “arab consensus“conditioning any normalization with Israel to a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.