Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the agreement a "new era of peace."
Bahrain has become the latest Arab nation to agree to normalise ties with Israel as part of a broader diplomatic push by President Donald Trump and his administration to fully integrate the Jewish state into the Middle East.
Trump announced the agreement on Friday, following a three-way 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 six-paragraph joint statement, attesting to the deal.
"Another HISTORIC breakthrough today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain agree to a Peace Deal – the second Arab country to make peace with Israel in 30 days!" Trump tweeted.
Another HISTORIC breakthrough today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain agree to a Peace Deal – the second Arab country to make peace with Israel in 30 days!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2020
The announcement on the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks 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. Bahrain’s foreign minister will attend the event.
“There’s no more powerful response to the hatred that spawned 9/11 than this agreement,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Just last week, Trump announced agreements in principle for Kosovo to recognize Israel and for Serbia to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East,” Trump, Netanyahu and King Hamad said in the statement. “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.”
Like the UAE agreement, Friday’s 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.
Iran says Bahrain partner to 'crimes' of Israel
Iran said Saturday that Bahrain is now partner to the "crimes" of Israel after the deal.
"The rulers of Bahrain will from now on be partners to the crimes of the Zionist regime as a constant threat to the security of the region and the world of Islam," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
US, Netanyahu hope for more to come
Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner noted that the agreement is the second Israel has reached with an Arab country in 30 days after having made peace with only two Arab nations – Egypt and Jordan – in 72 years of its independence.
“This is very fast,” Kushner told The Associated Press. “The region is responding very favourably to the UAE deal and hopefully it’s a sign that even more will come.”
Netanyahu welcomed the agreement and 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.”
Palestinians shuttled to the side
The agreement will likely be seen as a further setback to the Palestinians who tried unsuccessfully to have the Arab League condemn normalisation with Israel until they have secured an independent state. That was one of the few cards still held by Palestinians in negotiations as peace talks remain stalled.
The joint statement made passing mention of the Palestinians, saying the parties will continue efforts “to achieve a just, comprehensive, and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to enable the Palestinian people to realise their full potential.”
The Palestine Liberation Organization called the agreement "another treacherous stab to the Palestinian cause."
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.
While tacitly blessing the deals Saudi Arabia, the regional power player, is not expected to move as quickly.
Like the UAE, Bahrain has never fought a war against Israel and doesn’t share a border with it. But Bahrain, like most of the Arab world, long rejected diplomatic ties with Israel in the absence of a peace deal establishing a Palestinian state on lands captured by Israel in 1967.