Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wearing a protective face mask, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on May 31, 2020. (Photo by RONEN ZVULUN / X90084 / AFP)
The island kingdom of Bahrain on Friday became the fourth Arab country to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel, and the second as part of a Trump administration peace initiative.
Bahrain follows the United Arab Emirates’ decision last month to recognize Israel’s statehood.
“It’s just a very historic day, a very important day — and so interesting that it’s on 9/11,” President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “There’s no more powerful response to the hatred that spawned 9/11.”
Trump said the agreement would further peace in the Middle East as he orders a drawdown of US troops, including in Iraq.
“When I took office, the Middle East was in a state of absolute chaos,” Trump said.
“As more countries normalize relations with Israel, which will happen quite quickly, we believe, the region will become more and more stable, secure and prosperous,” he said.
“In the meantime, we’re pulling most of our soldiers out. So we’re doing it the opposite way. They were doing it with nothing but fighting and blood all over the place. The sand was loaded up with blood. And now you’re going to see that a lot of that sand is going to be loaded up with peace.”
Trump also told reporters, “I can see a lot of good things happening with respect to the Palestinians,” and that he even feels something “very positive” can happen with Iran, against which Trump recently escalated sanctions to deter its nuclear program and interventions in regional civil wars.
On Tuesday, Trump will host Bahrain foreign minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Emirati foreign affairs minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the White House.
Bahrain’s decision was announced in a joint statement by the countries after an Israeli public broadcasting journalist first reported the news on Twitter.
The joint statement said, “King Hamad [of Bahrain] and Prime Minister Netanyahu express their deep appreciation to President Trump for his dedication to peace in the region, his focus on shared challenges, and the pragmatic and unique approach he has taken to bringing their nations together.”
A Norwegian official nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize this week for his role in the UAE-Israel deal, which includes the establishment of direct commercial flights.
The development with Bahrain is another major achievement for Trump as part of a peace initiative led by his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who hosted a conference in Bahrain last year focused on Israeli-Palestinian peace.
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