Monday, October 19, 2020

Bahraini peace with Israel stops short of full relations

Flying into Bahrain on an El Al jet, an  Israeli diplomatic team signed several historic agreements with Bahraini officials. But for domestic political reasons, the Bahrainis stopped short of a full peace treaty, unlike the UAE.

A joint Israeli-US delegation flew to Bahrain yesterday for the signing of a joint communique between Israel and Bahrain on establishing diplomatic relations. 

The Israeli delegation was led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Foreign Ministry director general Alon Ushpiz. They were joined by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the White House envoy to the peace process, Avi Berkowitz.

Ben-Shabbat and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani signed a “Joint Communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic, peaceful, and friendly relations.” The two countries promised not to take hostile actions against one another and to act against hostile actions by third countries. The two countries also signed eight separate Memorandum of Understandings in economic cooperation, civil aviation, cooperation between the ministries of finance, communications and post, agriculture, cooperation between the ministries of foreign affairs, exemption of visa requirements for diplomats and cooperation between their respective Chambers of Commerce. 

 At the welcoming ceremony at the airport, Bahraini Foreign Minister Al Zayani said: “Today we start implementing the peace declaration which we signed in Washington. This approach is the most efficient one to achieve peace in the Middle East. This morning, the first commercial flight from the UAE, a Boeing 787 from Etihad Airlines landed in Israel.Bahrain requested that it only sign an interim agreement and not a fully-fledged peace treaty with Israel, like the UAE did earlier this month. 

 Bahraini foreign ministry official said: “In contrast to the UAE we prefer to take more measured steps and to sign a framework agreement at this stage, rather than a full peace treaty. We have seen the criticism that has emerged in Bahrain and other Arab countries as a result of the normalisation agreements with Israel and we are taking them into account. 

But we will not derail the process of establishing relations between the countries ahead of a full peace treaty that will include full diplomatic relations, exchange of ambassadors, opening embassies and a range of diplomatic, economic, business and tourism agreements with Israel.” Israeli officials have also noted the opposition to normalisation within Bahrain, which has a Shi’ite Muslim majority but ruled by a Sunni monarchy. 

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