Bahrain has become the latest Arab country after the United Arab Emirates to agree to normalize ties with Israel in a deal brokered by Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday (September 11).
The agreement is the second of its kind in about a month, with the United States hailing it as another step toward bringing peace and prosperity to the region as it seeks to work with Arab states to counter Iran’s influence.
“This is a truly historic day,” Trump told reporters, after he hosted a call between Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the deal.
He also said, “I am very hopeful that there will be more (countries) to follow.”
On Aug. 13, Trump announced that the UAE had agreed to normalize its diplomatic relations with Israel, making it the third major Arab nation after Egypt and Jordan to reach such a deal.
Palestinians have been disappointed by the developments, as many Arab countries had held off from opening diplomatic ties with Israel due to its decades-old conflict with Palestinians.
“The Bahrain-Israel announcement is not a peace deal. It is U.S. President Donald Trump playing to his base in the wake of elections and a reward to Israel’s escalating aggression and impunity,” Hanan Ashrawi, an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a statement issued Friday.
“Normalization of states in the region with Israel will not change the essence of this conflict, which is the systemic denial of the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to freedom and sovereignty,” she also said.
Regional power Iran, meanwhile, condemned the “shameful and ignominious measure by Bahrain that would sacrifice the cause of Palestine, decades of struggles, and the Palestinian people’s fortitude against miseries and sufferings for the sake of U.S. election.”
“The Bahraini government’s move will definitely result only in escalating anger and perpetual hatred among the oppressed people of Palestine, Muslims and the world’s free nations,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry also said in the statement.
At the heart of the conflict has been the West Bank, an area of the former British-mandated territory of Palestine west of the Jordan River. It was captured by Israel in the 1967 war with Arab states but remains an area claimed by the Palestinians, who are Arabs.
The Trump administration has pushed ahead with a series of pro-Israel policies, such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which the president himself has admitted was an effort to shore up his support among evangelical Christians for the Nov. 3 election.
A joint statement issued by Israel, the UAE and the United States on Aug. 13 said that Israel had agreed to suspend a plan to annex parts of the West Bank.
But Netanyahu reportedly said at the time that there was “no change” to the annexation plan and that it was just on “temporary hold.”