Roundup: Mideast countries differ on Bahrain-Israel normalization agreement

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-13 05:52:13|Editor: huaxia

CAIRO, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Countries in the Middle East have mixed reactions to the move by Israel and Bahrain to normalize their ties, which came less than a month after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel reached a similar U.S.-brokered normalization deal.

A joint statement issued on Friday by U.S. President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa hailed the Bahrain-Israel agreement as "a historic breakthrough."

Bahrain, the second Gulf Arab country to normalize ties with Israel after the UAE announced a similar deal on Aug. 13, is scheduled to sign the peace agreement with Israel on Sept. 15 at a ceremony in Washington, during which the UAE-Israel deal will also be inked.

Senior Bahraini officials welcomed on Saturday the normalization with Israel as a contributor to regional security and stability. Meanwhile, the National Assembly, the Bahraini parliament, called in a statement for achieving a "just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution" to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

However, the Bahrain-Israel deal has enraged the Palestinian Authority, which strongly condemned it, while blasting the U.S. for pressuring Arab countries into normalizing ties with Israel.

Shortly after the announcement of the Bahrain-Israel deal, the Palestinian leadership issued a statement condemning the Bahraini move as "a betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian cause."

Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki said that he would recall the Palestinian ambassador to Bahrain for consultations on how Palestine would take "necessary steps" to respond to Bahrain's move.

In separate statements, the Islamic Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad slammed the Bahrain-Israel deal as "a clear aggression against our people" and "a blatant coup against all Arab, national and Islamic constants of Palestine."

"Washington exploits its political and economic power to force the Arab countries to normalize ties with Israel," said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, in a press statement issued on Saturday.

"The U.S. government is using all means of incitement, intimidation and pressure" to achieve the goal, she added.

Iran, the top rival to Israel and the U.S. in the region, on Saturday vehemently condemned Bahrain for taking the step to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.

Bahraini authorities have done a "fundamental mistake" by "seeking shelter" in Israel instead of "gaining legitimacy from its people," Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

It said that the U.S. presidential election due in November is one of the reasons for Bahrain to "sacrifice the cause of honourable Palestine," warning that Iran will hold Bahrain accountable for all the consequences of any action leading to Israel to "create insecurity in the Gulf region."

Turkey also expressed strong condemnation and concern about Bahrain's decision which "violates the Arab Peace Initiative and the commitments made by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation."

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs called Bahrain's move as "a heavy blow to the efforts to defend the Palestinian cause," which will deepen Israel's "illegal acts" in Palestine and encourage Israel to continue to occupy the Palestinian lands.

It stressed that the only way to establish peace and stability in the Middle East is to resolve the Palestinian issue fairly and comprehensively within the framework of international law and UN resolutions.

On another side, Egypt, the first Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel in 1979, and the UAE, the first Gulf Arab state to normalize ties with Israel, both welcomed the Bahrain-Israel peace deal.

In a statement issued on his official Facebook page on Friday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said that he valued this important step toward establishing stability and peace in the Middle East, in a way that achieves "a just and permanent settlement of the Palestinian issue."

The UAE congratulated Bahrain on normalizing its ties with Israel. The UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that it hopes that this agreement will have "a positive impact on the regional and international peace and cooperation atmosphere."

But Jordan, the second Arab country to sign a peace deal with Israel in 1994, sounded a more cautious note.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in statement on Friday that ending the Israeli occupation and resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the two-state solution play the key role in realizing peace in the Middle East.

Safadi called for stopping all Israeli measures that undermine the two-state solution, and for creating an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, in line with the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and the international resolutions.

"The effect of such deals relies on Israel's actions," Safadi said. Enditem