Bahrain and UAE recognize Israel in U.S. deal

Other Middle Eastern states may be soon to normalize relations, Trump says

written By: Sophie Boulter, staff writer
Photo courtesy of Flickr
President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
celebrated as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recognized Israel.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have officially recognized Israel as a nation. President Donald Trump helped broker the agreements between the two countries. 

On Tuesday, Trump hosted the Israeli Prime Minister, Bahraini Foreign Minister and Emirati Foreign Minister in the White House. These leaders signed the Abraham Accords, a set of agreements that will normalize relations between the countries.  

“These agreements prove that the nations of the region are breaking free from failed approaches of the past. Today’s signing sets history on a new course and there will be other countries very, very soon that will follow these great leaders,” Trump said.  

The Accords give the UAE assurances that Israel would suspend its planned annexation of parts of the West Bank.  

“I stand here today to extend a hand of peace and receive a hand of peace,” Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said. 

The UAE also hopes to buy F-35 fighter jets from the United States. White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner confirmed that the United States would sell these jets in a CNN interview last month. 

Bahrain will receive greater access to Israeli military technology. Both countries may benefit from strengthened cooperation with the U.S. and Israel.  

“For too long, the Middle East has been set back by conflict and mistrust, causing untold destruction,” Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani said. 

Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump point to normalization of diplomatic relations with two Gulf countries as a foreign policy achievement.  

Most Sunni Gulf states have maintained covert relations with Israel for years, including the UAE and Bahrain. Mutual distrust of Iran led the UAE and Bahrain to pursue informal relations with Israel. 

Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East and ongoing development of ballistic missiles may have driven Tuesday’s normalization of relations between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel. 

The UAE and Bahrain were initially hesitant to formally recognizing Israel due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian Authority has condemned the agreements.  

“The only path for peace for the Palestinians is ending this brutal Israeli occupation and granting the Palestinians their inalienable rights for self-determination. Without that there is no path to peace in the region,” said Ammar Hijazi, assistant minister of multilateral affairs for the Palestinian Authority. 

Qatar, another Gulf state, will not recognize Israel until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is settled. 

Trump hinted that other Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Oman, would follow in recognizing Israel.  

The decision to recognize Israel may not be popular with UAE and Bahraini citizens.  

Though the UAE is an absolute monarchy where citizen’s opinions are less transparent, Bahrain is a constitutional monarchy, allowing Bahraini citizens to voice discontent with the Abraham Accords on social media.  

Some, citing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said that Bahrain should not recognize Israel. Others expressed disappointment that the U.S., a country with a history of intervention in the Middle East, brokered the peace talks. 

“For many in the region, the new-found diplomatic partnership between Israel and the two Gulf States could further normalize Palestinian disempowerment and marginality,” said Dr. Suparna Chatterjee, Associate Professor of Sustainability and Global Cultures.