Diplomacy

Bridging the Gulf? Writer Says Bahrain Doesn’t Need Permission to Normalize with Israel

In the latest sign that relations between Israel and the Gulf States are warming up, a Bahraini writer said that his nation will not ask for permission to normalize with Israel, Middle East Monitor reported Monday.

Abdullah Al-Junaid spoke about Bahrain’s interest in normalizing relations with Israel during an interview at RT, “if Bahrain finds its interest in this, it will not take permission from anyone.” If the Palestinians objected, Al-Junaid said, they would have to return to “political reality.”

“Why do they not form political parties instead of armed fronts,” the writer asked.

While the Monitor described Al-Junaid’s remarks as having “sparked controversy,” there have been numerous recent indications that the Gulf States are improving their ties with Israel, even if they don’t yet have diplomatic relations with the Jewish State.

During the past week alone, three separate news stories showed closer ties between Israel and Bahrain’s neighbors.

This week, a team from Israel, accompanied by its Sports and Culture Minister, participated in Israeli uniforms in the Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam. Hatikva, Israel’s national anthem was played twice for the first time in Abu Dhabi, as two Israeli judokas, Sagi Muki and Peter Paltchik, won gold medals in their respective weight classes. The minister, Miri Regev, was also invited to tour Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque. Regev said of the reception she and the team received in the United Arab Emirates, “I want to thank the authorities in Abu Dhabi and our hosts here who received us in an exemplary manner.”

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was received by Sultan Sayyid Qaboos bin Said Al Said in Oman. Following Netanyahu’s visit to Muscat, Oman’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah told a regional security forum in Bahrain: “maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same [as other states] and to also bear the same obligations.”

On Monday,  Mohammed al-Issa, the Secretary-General of the Saudi-based Muslim World League, issued a statement condemning Saturday’s massacre of eleven Jewish worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue. The league’s statement said, “this terrorist attack is deprived of all principles and values and targeted the lives of peaceful and innocent civilians.”

Earlier this year, al-Issa said, “that no Islamic laws prohibit Muslims to respect “the Jewish religion and the right of the Jews to live in dignity.” He has also condemned Holocaust denial and visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In addition, in May of this year, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister defended Israel’s right to defend itself against Iranian aggression, tweeting, “As long as Iran has breached the status quo in the region and invaded countries with its forces and missiles, so any state in the region, including Israel, is entitled to defend itself by destroying sources of danger.” This statement of support followed Israeli retaliation for a barrage of twenty rockets fired at Israel from Iranian positions in Syria.

In December of last year, an interfaith delegation from Bahrain visited Israel bringing a message of peace from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

[Photo: Ministry of Home Affairs / WikiCommons ]