The small Gulf kingdom authorizes Israeli planes to fly over its airspace
After the knock on the normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, sponsored by Donald Trump on August 13, the president of the United States announced this Friday via Twitter the establishment of diplomatic ties between Bahrain and the Jewish State. Next Tuesday a ceremony is scheduled at the White House for the signing of the agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. It is the third Arab country with which Israel exchanges embassies, after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994).
The crown prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa, plans to travel to Washington next Monday, as announced on Friday by the Israeli state television channel Kan, without confirming whether he will also sign a memorandum of understanding with the Israeli diplomacy. Trump anticipated on Thursday during a press conference at the White House that “there could be other countries that will join the act of signing the agreement on Tuesday” between Israel and the Emirates, without offering further details. “There are many (Arab) countries that are queuing,” he said. The US Administration has contacted several possible candidates in recent weeks through the senior adviser and son-in-law of the Republican president, Jared Kushner.
Bahrain, a small island state (760 square kilometers; 1.2 million inhabitants, half immigrant) closely linked to Saudi Arabia, is one of the Gulf monarchies that has maintained increasingly less informal economic and military relations with Israel. Last year it hosted in its capital, Manama, an international forum on the financial aspects of the so-called Deal of the Century, the Middle East peace plan designed by the White House that has been flatly rejected by the Palestinians.
This same week, Bahrain has confirmed that it will allow Israeli commercial planes to fly over its airspace, after the Riyadh government had also authorized it. Until now, the Manama regime had made any agreement with Israel conditional on concerted action with Saudi Arabia, a sponsor of the so-called Arab Peace Initiative since 2002. This plan offers Israelis normalization of relations in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state. on the 1967 borders and with capital in East Jerusalem. King Salman warned last month, after the diplomatic understanding with the Emirates, that as long as Palestine does not exist, his country will not recognize Israel, in accordance with the consensus that was hegemonic until now in the Arab League.
Netanyahu is racing to seek new diplomatic ties before Trump’s presidential term ends, now also in need of accomplishments as a global statesman to revitalize his election campaign. In the wake of an agreement with the United Arab Emirates that is to be staged at the White House, the Israeli government is trying to strengthen ties with European and African countries.
The Emirati strongman, Mohamed Bin Zayed, will not be present at Tuesday’s ceremony, however, which has been interpreted as a display of mistrust about the weapons compensation – F-35 stealth aircraft undetectable by radar – that he hopes to receive from USA after normalizing relations with Israel. With its economic and military influence, Abu Dhabi has also imposed silence on the Arab League, which this week has preferred to park a Palestinian petition to condemn the violation of the consensus of unity of diplomatic action.
Obsessed with leaving behind the isolation derived from occupation and neighborhood wars, Israel has unsuccessfully groped other Gulf states, such as Oman, to swap embassies. In Africa, it has also tempted Islamic Sudan with military and economic aid, backed by additional pressure from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month in Khartoum, and even remote Christian Malawi, as well as deepening its military influence over the unstable. Chad.
Trump has also favored a rapprochement of the Jewish state with Serbia and Kosovo, although the results do not seem to be as expected. Belgrade has warned that if the Israeli government recognizes Kosovo, it will not fulfill the promise made a week ago at the White House to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel had so far avoided establishing relations with Pristina for fear that other European countries would replicate with the recognition of Palestine as a state. Despite accelerating pressure from Trump and Netanyahu, tangible diplomatic achievements are only being confirmed with Gulf countries with which Israel has been maintaining shadow relations for two decades.