Trump unveils peace deal between Israel and Bahrain

He hopes diplomatic success will give him much-needed boost ahead of Nov 3 polls

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has announced a peace deal between Israel and Bahrain, which becomes the second Arab country to settle with its former foe over the past month, reinforcing an ambitious White House push to redraw the conflicts of the Middle East.

Calling it a "truly historic day", Mr Trump said Israel and Bahrain were establishing full diplomatic and commercial relations.

"They will exchange embassies and ambassadors, begin direct flights between their countries and launch cooperation initiatives across a broad range of sectors, including health, business, technology, education, security and agriculture," he told reporters on Friday.

Bahrain said in a joint statement that it had agreed to formalise the deal with Israel at a White House event on Tuesday. The United Arab Emirates is also expected to ink its own peace deal with Israel, announced in the middle of last month, at the White House.

The statement said Bahrain's King Hamad, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr Trump talked earlier on Friday before announcing the deal.

Bahrain said that during the phone call, the King "stressed the need to reach a just and comprehensive peace as a strategic option, in accordance with the two-state solution and relevant resolutions of international legitimacy".

A senior official in the Bahraini capital Manama said the deal would boost regional "security, stability, prosperity".

Until now, Israel has been able to strike just two peace accords with Arab countries - Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994 - and Mr Trump is hoping the diplomatic successes will give him badly needed momentum going into the Nov 3 presidential election.

In Jerusalem, Mr Netanyahu hailed the agreement, saying: "Citizens of Israel, I am moved to be able to tell you that this evening, we are reaching another peace agreement with another Arab country, Bahrain. This agreement adds to the historic peace with the United Arab Emirates."

Over in the UAE, Ms Hend al-Otaiba, director of strategic communications at the Foreign Ministry, sent congratulations to Bahrain and Israel.

"Today marks another significant and historic achievement which will contribute enormously to the stability and prosperity of the region," she said.

But Palestinians, who see Arab support as crucial to their limited power in resisting Israeli occupation, quickly condemned the Israel-Bahrain deal as well.

The agreement is "a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people", said Dr Ahmad Majdalani, Social Development Minister in the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2020, with the headline Trump unveils peace deal between Israel and Bahrain. Subscribe