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Nothing normal about normalization of ties

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Adnan Shafi
The Arab state of Bahrain decided last month to normalize its relations with the Jewish state of Israel. The decision is being seen as part of US President Donald Trump and his administration’s efforts to end Israel’s isolation in the Middle East. One of the goals of the US administration’s diplomatic efforts is to increase cooperation between anti-Iranian states in the Middle East that share US concerns about Iran.
US President Donald Trump announced an agreement to normalize relations between Israel and Bahrain on the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Earlier, he spoke on phone to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The three leaders also issued a brief joint statement outlining the decision to normalize Israeli-Bahraini relations. In the past two months, Bahrain has become the second Arab state to establish relations with Israel.
Bahrain, a small island state, is home to the US Navy’s regional headquarters. Saudi Arabia in 2011 sent troops to Bahrain to help quell an uprising and, alongside Kuwait and the UAE, in 2018 offered Bahrain a $10bn economic bailout.
This is the fact that for decades, Arab states have boycotted Israel and kept it a secret that they can only establish relations with Israel once the Palestinian issue is resolved.
But last month, the UAE backed a peace deal with Israel, making it the first Gulf country to make peace with Israel. Ever since then, there has been speculation that Bahrain will do the same.
President Trump has acted as a mediator in both agreements. Bahrain is the fourth Arab country to recognize Israel since Israel came into being in 1948. Egypt and Jordan were on the list before the UAE and Bahrain.
President Trump has termed the move as a historic milestone. He also shared a copy of the US-Bahrain-Israel joint statement on his Twitter account.
The fear among the Palestinians is that these deals are a green light for more Arab states to normalise ties with Israel. And many Palestinians say that for years they saw the US as Israel’s lawyer or partner and now they see it as Israel’s agent. That’s because Trump is the one announcing these normalisation deals.
Now Bahrain has joined the United Arab Emirates in agreeing to normalise relations with Israel, in a US-brokered deal that Palestinian leaders denounced as “another treacherous stab to the Palestinian cause”.
The Palestinian Authority has rejected the deal and called on Bahrain to immediately retreat from it due to the great harm it causes to the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people and joint Arab action.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), based in Ramallah, the occupied West Bank, called the normalisation “another treacherous stab to the Palestinian cause”. And in Gaza, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said Bahrain’s decision to normalise relations with Israel “represents a grave harm to the Palestinian cause, and it supports the occupation”.
The move may prove to be of some gain for the US administration for the time being as President Trump is facing a tough fight in the upcoming elections in US, but as far the Arab world and the Palestinians, the move may prove to be yet another assault on their genuine fight to secure their homeland.
(The author is a student and writes for various publications)


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