President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. AP Photo
Bahrain on Friday agreed to normalise relations with Israel, becoming the fourth Arab nation to recognise Israel, a Middle Eastern country on the Mediterranean Sea. reports AP.
Bahrain has agreed to do so as part of a broader diplomatic push by President Donald Trump and his administration to further ease the Jewish state's relative isolation in the Middle East and find a common ground with nations that share U.S. wariness of Iran.
The agreement makes Bahrain the fourth Arab country, after Egypt, Jordan and the UAE, to have full diplomatic ties with Israel.
Other Arab nations believed to be on the cusp of fully recognising Israel include Oman and Sudan. The region's power player, Saudi Arabia may also be close to a deal.
Trump announced the agreement on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks following a phone call he had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
The three leaders also issued a brief joint statement marking the second such Arab normalisation agreement with Israel in the past two months.
The announcement came less than a week before Trump hosts a White House ceremony to mark the establishment of full relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, something that Trump and his Middle East team brokered in August. Bahrain’s foreign minister will attend that event and sign a separate agreement with Netanyahu.
“There’s no more powerful response to the hatred that spawned 9/11 than this agreement,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Friday's agreement is another diplomatic win for Trump less than two months before the presidential election and an opportunity to shore up support among pro-Israel evangelical Christians.
In addition to the UAE deal, Trump just last week announced agreements in principle for Kosovo to recognise Israel and for Serbia to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
But it is a setback for Palestinian leaders, who have urged Arab nations to withhold recognition until they have secured an independent state.
In their joint statement, Trump, Netanyahu and King Hamad called the agreement "a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East.”
“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," the statement said.
Like the UAE agreement, the Bahrain-Israel deal will normalise diplomatic, commercial, security and other relations between the two countries.
Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, had already dropped a prohibition on Israeli flights using its airspace.
Saudi acquiescence to the agreements has been considered key to the deals.
Netanyahu thanked Trump. “It took us 26 years between the second peace agreement with an Arab country and the third, but only 29 days between the third and the fourth, and there will be more,” he said, referring to the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan and the more recent agreements.
Bahrain's Foreign Ministry welcomed the deal and said Hamad had praised US efforts to establish security and stability in the Middle East, according to the official news agency.