What Is Everyone Saying About the Bahrain-Israel Peace Deal
In Gaza, Palestinians "burned pictures of Israeli, American Bahraini and United Arab Emirates leaders....to protest against the two Gulf countries' moves to normalize ties with Israel", according to Al Jazeera. This of course is in response to Bahrain's move to normalize relations with Israel, something that was taboo unless Israel meets Palestinian conditions for peace.
But as Fareed Zakaria claimed on GPS this week, Gulf states are concerned with their own national security interests. The threat from Iran looms large as it continues to expand its regional influence and strive to acquire nuclear weapons. An alliance with Israel and a strengthened alliance with America and Europe is a welcomed reprieve.
In the West Bank, Secretary General of the PLO - Saeb Erekat - allegedly said "the diplomatic push will not achieve peace if the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not resolved first". But in recent years, the Palestinian Authority has not made significant strides to resolve the issue and reach a comprehensive agreement.
Not surprisingly, according to reports in Arab media, Iranian state television reported that Bahrain would face "harsh revenge" from its own people and the Palestinians. This is unlikely given the constructive relationship that has developed between Bahrain and Israel over the last few years - including visiting delegations to both countries.
Meanwhile, accolades for this latest agreement have been pouring in. The EU said it "welcomes the announced establishment of diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Bahrain and Israel...and believes that these developments represent a positive contribution to peace and stability in the Middle East".
House Majority Leader, Steny H. Hoyer said in a statement, "I applaud Israel's success in securing normalized relations with Bahrain. Peace with the Arab States has been Israel's aim since its founding, and it has remained a major American foreign policy goal".
Without question, however, this peace agreement and that with the UAE - could not have been achieved without the Trump administration's lobbying. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "we wouldn't come to this historic moment without the forceful leadership of President Trump and his able team".
Bahrain is clearly walking a fine line as its media advisor to the King of Bahrain reaffirmed that "normalizing relations with Israel affirms that a fair and lasting peace is the best way to guarantee Palestinian rights". The UAE lauded the Bahrain agreement saying it will "contribute enormously to the stability and prosperity of the region" while Egypts president said the "agreement will help establish peace and stability in the Middle East".
In the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he warmly welcomes "normalization of relations between Bahrain and Israel". He expanded on this going further saying that he hopes "others will follow in these steps to further progress towards Middle East Peace". Other nations and world leaders also hailed the agreement including the Czech Republic, Germany, Canada and Australia.
Encouraging editorials and commentary are being written about this latest agreement. Some of the positive headlines on the issue attest that with the US withdrawing from the region, this is an opportunity for allies to band together; that Bahrain stands to benefit economically from this agreement; that these are political achievements for Netanyahu and Trump and of course, that "Normal relations were long overdue".
Still, there are many who oppose these great strides. It was reported that a journalist recently began a campaign to identify and boycott Arab world journalists who report positively on the peace agreements. There will be naysayers and extremists on either side of course. But the signing on the White House Lawn this week is an exciting opportunity for the world to celebrate and advance peace and democracy.
As the winds of change continue to strengthen toward peace in the Middle East, speculation about which country will take a chance on peace next - the natural partner might be Morocco given the substantial number of Israeli tourists visiting the country each year. Others speculate that Saudi Arabia may make a surprise move. Oman might be a small stepping stone to peace in between. Either way...the road to peace is paved in gold and the world seems to be ready.