In second breakthrough, Bahrain to establish diplomatic relations with Israel

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President’s senior adviser, Jared Kushner (L) and Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa (R) pose for a press photo, during Kushner’s visit to Manama, Bahrain, September 1, 2020. Bahrain News Agency/Handout via REUTERS

Bahrain and Israel have agreed to establish diplomatic relations, President Donald Trump announced Friday, with the Persian Gulf nation following neighbor the United Arab Emirates in forging formal ties with the Jewish state.

Trump and the leaders of Bahrain and Israel spoke Friday, and issued a joint statement that Trump tweeted shortly after he returned from a ceremony in Shanksville, Penn., commemorating the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

“This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East,” the joint statement read. “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.”

Trump first announced the news on Twitter and then addressed it in an Oval Office appearance.

“Even great warriors get tired of fighting, and they’re tired of fighting,” Trump said.

Israel and Bahrain are not at war, although like other Arab states, Bahrain backs Palestinian claims to land and rights.

Egypt and Jordan were the only Arab states to have made formal peace with Israel before the UAE agreement last month.

Bahrain is not fully normalizing relations, as UAE has done, and considers Friday’s announcement a first step, a person close to the Bahraini royal family said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to address the matter on the record.

Bahrain is sending its foreign minister to the White House next week to attend a signing ceremony between Israel and UAE, the person said.

Bahrain is among at least two smaller Persian Gulf states expected to follow the UAE’s lead. Trump spoke to the leader of the other, Oman, earlier this week.

Bahrain was the site last year of the Trump administration’s rollout of an economic plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The more sensitive political plan was released in January, including a map of a provisional Palestinian state in the West Bank. Palestinian leaders rejected the plan without holding negotiations, and since then Trump administration efforts have focused on establishing direct ties between Israel and its other neighbors in a bid both to give Israel greater security and to apply pressure on Palestinian leaders to open talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a video celebrating the news.

“We have invested in peace for many years and now peace will invest in us,” Netanyahu said. “It will lead to very large investments in the Israeli economy,” he said.

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