What is behind Bahrain’s normalization with Israel? | Israel News

Twenty-six years after Bahrain welcomed an Israeli delegation for the first time, Small Bay Islands Last week Became the latest Arab country to agree to normalize its relations with Israel.

This did not come as a surprise. Ever since US President Donald Trump announced on August 13 that the United Arab Emirates and Israel had agreed to establish diplomatic relations, there had been speculation that Bahrain would be next.

Despite Bahrain Declared Last month that it was committed to building a Palestinian state, the island state was always likely to follow the UAE suit “once the taboo was broken”, visiting Ian Black, senior fellow at the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics , Told Al Jazeera.

Home to the US Navy’s regional headquarters and connected to Saudi Arabia at a distance of 25 km (16 mi), Bahrain seemed less reluctant to make public its relations with Israel in recent years.

In February 2017, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa met with Jewish leaders in the United States and reportedly expressed opposition to the boycott of Israel by Arab countries. Later that year, the government backed it is Bahrain Interfaith group The Palestinians were in a tizzy when Trump visited Israel just days after he announced his controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy.

Friday’s deal with Israel was Killed by Palestinians as another betrayal by an Arab state, undermining their efforts to achieve further self-determination and leaving them isolated under a new framework for regional “peace” decided by Trump’s administration Gaya who also considers Iran as spiteful.

“There is no doubt that this is a serious blow to the Palestinians – and a mistaken feeling that their cause is no longer a priority for Arab regimes,” Black said.

The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on actual borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel captured and annexed the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. East Jerusalem. Arab countries have called for a long time Israel’s withdrawal from already illegally occupied lands leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state in exchange for a solution for Palestinian refugees and establishing relations with it.

‘Saudi influence’

Although Saudi Arabia, the regional heavyweight and arch-rival of Iran, has so far indicated that it is not ready to step on its own, analysts say the recent deal would not have happened without its support.

Bahrain’s political agenda is “too much to set by Saudi Arabia” Marwa Fatafta, a policy member with the Palestinian policy network al-Shabka.

At the end of 2018, Just a few months ago, Manma agreed to host a US-led conference to unveil Trump’s so-called Middle East plan, the economic part of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, to financially support Bahrain. Pledged $ 10bn.

In addition to being “economically dependent on its neighbors”, Bahrain’s new alliance with Israel helped to increase its power and could “crush any resistance to authoritarianism or freedom and democracy”.

In 2011, during the start of the Arab Spring uprising, Saudi Arabia sent troops to Bahrain to suppress anti-government demonstrations. Many of those who rallied against the Bahrain royalty were from the majority of the country’s Shia population, who had long complained of repression.

Therefore, joining the bandwagon under the leadership of the US could give the Bahrain monarchy “continued protection against its own people”. Maudia Rabbani, co-editor of Jadaliya Publications.

In normalizing relations with Israel, Bahrain is ensuring that it has found an ally that is “equally” Committed to maintaining the status quo and preventing the success of any popular uprising “, he said.

On Sunday, Bahrain’s top Shia leader Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qasim, who lives abroad, rejected recent normalization deals with Israel and urged the region’s people to protest.

Bahrain has “disputed most of its people” with its own people, the Gulf monarchy. Rabbani.

‘Common geopolitical interest’

According to analysts, strengthening the status quo means that other main players in the region, such as the Shiite clerical state Iran and even Turkey.

Rabbani said, “The US and Israel have launched a comprehensive campaign to remove the question of Palestine to replace the Arab-Israeli conflict with not only international but regional agendas and an Arab-Iranian conflict.”

In times of regional upheaval, these Gulf states are motivated by a desire to “solidify their relationship with” Washington “, he said.

Black said Bahrain cares more about “pleasing Washington”, but noted that mutual hostility to Iran is an important part of emerging alliances.

Fatafat also believes that team-building comes with “common geopolitical interests”.

He found a strong ally in Israel against his number one enemy: Iran.

For some of these states, the Iranian “threat” has increased in recent years, perhaps even quickly in neighboring Yemen, as well as in Syria and Lebanon – which is Israel’s border.

In Yemen, Saudi Arabia has been fighting in a war against the Iranian-coalition Houthi rebels since March 2015, while supporters of the Shia Lebanese group Hezbollah in Syria are fighting in support of the government of Syria Bashar al-Assad – a staunch ally Iran.

Saudi Arabia, which said earlier this month that it would allow all flights between the UAE and Israel to cross its airspace, is important in determining which countries can follow in Bahrain and the UAE’s footsteps.

“One needs to differentiate between different Gulf states,” Black said. “Qatar and Kuwait are unlikely to follow the Emirati example. The key is Saudi Arabia which has reiterated its commitment to the Arab peace initiative”, he said, referring to the 2002 plan to normalize relations with Israel. The conditions of the countries met.

“But this situation may change in the future,” Black said.

Reclaim PLO

A signing ceremony for deals between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, which Normalize diplomatic, commercial, security and other relations, It is expected to be held in Washington, DC on Tuesday.

A direct statement by the US, Bahrain and Israel stated, “Direct dialogue between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies and will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security and prosperity in the region.”

Now, it does not appear that long-stalled negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian leadership will resume under the framework of the US-Brocade Oslo Accord, signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1990.

Although Oslo made little effort to help the Palestinians, Israel, with Washington’s support, has moved forward to extend its control over the occupied Palestinian territories. Earlier this year, Trump’s so-called Middle East plan cleared Israel’s destruction of illegal settlements and large swaths of the occupied West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, giving Israel a permanent eastern border with the Jordan River.

“If a viable two-state solution is no longer on the regional and international agendas, there is no other viable solution to end the occupation,” Black said.

Fattafa concluded that the diplomacy track taken by Palestinian leaders since Oslo has failed and said that Palestinians should “reclaim the PLO” if they want to achieve self-determination.

Rabbani also said that there will be no change unless “there will be a comprehensive restructuring and reconstruction of the national movement based on the complete disintegration from the structures and relations developed on the basis of the Oslo Agreements.”

“This is a tall order, not impossible, but will never happen until the current leadership passes or is forced from the scene.”