Senior Advisor to the President of the United States, Jared Kushner (D) meets Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa (L), during his visit to Manama, Bahrain, September 1, 2020. Bahrain News Agency / Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Bahrain News Agency | Dispensation via Reuters
Bahrain joined the United Arab Emirates on Friday to strike a deal to normalize relations with Israel, a dramatic move aimed at easing tensions in the Middle East.
US President Donald Trump tweeted the news after speaking on the phone with both Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said.
“This is a historic turning point for further peace in the Middle East,”
“Opening direct dialogue and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security and prosperity in the region,” he said.
Last month the UAE decided to normalize ties with Israel as part of a US-brokered deal. The agreement is expected to be signed on September 15 during a ceremony at the White House hosted by Trump and in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the UAE’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
The easing of relations with Israel comes in a context of shared fears about the threat of Iran in the region.
The Trump administration has tried to convince other Sunni Arab countries to engage with Israel. The most powerful of these, Saudi Arabia, has signaled that it is not ready.
Bahrain, a small island state, is a close ally of Saudi Arabia and home to the headquarters of the United States Navy. Riyadh sent troops to Bahrain in 2011 to help quell an uprising and, along with Kuwait and the UAE, offered Bahrain a $ 10 billion bailout in 2018.
Friday’s agreement makes Bahrain the fourth Arab country to reach such an agreement with Israel since it exchanged embassies with Egypt and Jordan decades ago.
Last week, Bahrain said it will allow flights between Israel and the UAE to use its airspace. This followed a Saudi decision to allow an Israeli commercial airliner to fly over it on its way to the UAE.