Israel, Bahrain to sign interim diplomatic relations agreement – report

Written by on October 17, 2020

Israel and Bahrain will sign a declaration on the the establishment of peace and diplomatic relations, senior American and Israeli officials told Walla.

The agreement will serve as an interim agreement and will include the establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies in the respective countries. 

It will be signed in Bahrain’s capital Manama by senior officials from both countries, under the auspices of United States Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin and White House special representative for international negotiations Avi Berkowitz. The Treasury Department said in a release that US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will also join the US delegation. 

They delegation will meet with Bahraini officials in Manama before flying to Abu Dhabi, where “the first-ever Abraham Accords Business Summit” will be held. The group will then fly back to Tel Aviv, the department said.

“The goal is to start implementing the White House peace declaration, putting more meat into it, detailing it and defining the general principles of relations between the two countries,” a senior official told Walla. 

The statement will serve as the framework for a series of agreements, which will be signed in various locations, according to the official cited by Walla.

Included in the declaration, which will be two pages long, will be an agreement to establish diplomatic relations and an agreement to open embassies in the respective countries. 

Within the agreement, Israel and Bahrain will commit to  not take hostile actions against each other and will act to prevent hostile actions by a third party. It also emphasizes that the two countries are committed to coexistence and peace education. 

Additionally, the statement will outline a list of 10 areas on which Israel and Bahrain will work in cooperation. They include investment, civil aviation, tourism, trade, science and technology, environment, communications, health, agriculture, water, energy and legal cooperation. 

The joint notice comes following the Knesset’s ratification of the UAE-Israel normalization agreement earlier this week and after weeks of US-led negotiations.

A close ally of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the island nation of Bahrain has worked closely with moderate Sunni Gulf monarchies in combating the rising influence of Iran and its Shia proxies in Yemen and Lebanon.

Bahrain, which is dominated by the Sunni Al Khalifa royal family despite having a Shia-majority population, has also aligned with Saudi Arabia over tensions with Qatar, and sought Saudi military support in quelling protests during the protests associated with the Arab Spring.

In recent years, Iran-Bahrain relations have been tense over a wide variety of issues, particularly the presence of the US Fifth Fleet in the country.

Prior to the push for normalization between Israel and Bahrain, it was widely suspected that both countries have already been sharing intelligence on Iran. Likewise, an indicator for growing relations came after Bahrain stopped referring to Israel as the ‘Zionist entity,’ in addition to encouraging increased public acknowledgement of the country’s Jewish community. 

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