Israel and Bahrain agreed to establish full diplomatic relations on Friday in a second breakthrough between Israel and its Arab neighbours after it normalized ties with the United Arab Emirates last month, reports said on Saturday.
Bahrain thus became the second Arab nation to do so as part of a broader diplomatic push by US President Donald Trump and his administration to further ease the Jewish state’s relative isolation in the Middle East.
Trump announced the agreement on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks following a phone call he had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
The three leaders also issued a brief joint statement marking the second such Arab normalization agreement with Israel in the past two months.
The announcement came less than a week before Trump hosts a White House ceremony to mark the establishment of full relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, something that Trump and his Middle East team brokered in August. Bahrain’s foreign minister will attend that event and sign a separate agreement with Netanyahu.
“There’s no more powerful response to the hatred that spawned 9/11 than this agreement,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Friday’s agreement is another setback for Palestinian leaders, who have urged Arab nations to withhold recognition until they have secured an independent state. The Palestinians have seen a steady erosion in once-unified Arab support _ one of the few cards they still held as leverage against Israel _ since Trump began pursuing an unabashedly pro-Israel agenda.
“This is another stab in the back of the Palestinian cause, the Palestinian people and their rights,” said Wasel Abu Yousef, a senior Palestinian official according to AP.
“It is a betrayal of Jerusalem and the Palestinians … We see absolutely no justification for this free normalization with Israel.”