“Another HISTORICAL achievement today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain have reached a peace agreement – the second Arab country to make peace with Israel in 30 days, ” the president tweeted euphorically. In mid-August, with the presidential elections less than three months away, Trump took a first step towards what he called “the Deal of the Century,” the White House proposal to settle the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, which he presented in last february. The president signed up, with the mediation in the agreement to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates , his main diplomatic goal in the Middle East and one of the most relevant in foreign policy of his entire term.
American diplomacy has played an important role in the negotiations. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that a team from the State Department had been working on the agreement “for a long time” and that the crucial part was closed “in recent months.” In this way, the crown prince of Bahrain, Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa, plans to travel to Washington this coming Monday, as announced this Friday by the Israeli state television channel Kan, without confirming whether he will also sign a memorandum of understanding with diplomacy Israeli. Trump anticipated last Thursday during a press conference at the White House that “there could be other countries that will join the act of signing the agreement [next] Tuesday” between Israel and the Emirates, without offering further details. “There are many (Arab) countries that are queuing,” assured. 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 an international forum in its capital, Manama, 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 Government of Riyadh had also authorized it. Until now, the Manama regime had made any agreement with Israel conditional on concerted action with Saudi Arabia, the 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 achievements 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 Emirates strongman, Mohamed Bin Zayed , however, will not be at Tuesday’s ceremony, which has been interpreted as a display of mistrust about the counterparts in weapons – 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 stemming 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 Pompeo last month in Khartoum, and even remote Christian Malawi, as well as deepening its military influence over 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 respond 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.
Trump struggled to capitalize on the deal by announcing it in a tweet and then by calling for a brief announcement at the White House. “Everybody said this was going to be impossible,” he said. The president proclaimed himself as a promoter of peace in the region who at the same time accommodates the pieces of a complex chess. “I have kept you away from a war,” he noted.