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Israel says official diplomatic ties with Bahrain will begin Sunday




Jerusalem: Israel and Bahrain will formally establish diplomatic relations on Sunday at a ceremony in Manama, an Israeli official said after the two countries reached a US-brokered normalization agreement last month.

A visiting delegation from Israel and officials in Bahrain will sign a “joint communiqué (which) is the establishment of full diplomatic relations,” an Israeli official in Manama told reporters.

Once the text is signed at a ceremony scheduled for Sunday evening, Israel and Bahrain will be free to open embassies in each other’s countries, the official said.

The UAE and Bahrain became the third and fourth Arab states to agree to normalize ties with Israel, following Egypt’s 1979 peace agreement with Israel and a 1994 pact with Jordan.

Sunday’s meeting follows a Sept. 15 ceremony at the White House when Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain introduced the so-called “Abraham Accords” mediated by the administration of President Donald Trump.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Special Assistant for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz will arrive in Bahrain for the ceremony.

In addition to the joint communiqué on establishing diplomatic ties, Israel and Bahrain are expected to sign “six to eight” memoranda, including economic co-operation, the Israeli official said.

The official said he could not describe the essence of all the agreements scheduled for signing Sunday, but security co-operation is likely to show up prominently in bilateral talks.

Earlier this month, Israeli Mossad spy chief Yossi Cohen held talks in Bahrain with senior security and intelligence officials on “topics of mutual interest,” according to the Bahrain News Agency.

Significant change – Palestinians have condemned the Gulf agreements with Israel as “a blow to the back” for their aspirations to establish their own independent state.

The agreements mark a marked shift in a decades-old status quo, where Arab countries have sought to maintain unity against Israel over its treatment of stateless Palestinians.

Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists more Mediterranean states want ties with Israel as priorities shift, arguing that countries now value lucrative trade opportunities over the Palestinian conflict.

But key player Saudi Arabia has said it will not pursue its allies Bahrain and the UAE in establishing diplomatic relations without a solution to the Palestinian issue.

The Israeli parliament on Thursday ratified the normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates.

A separate vote on the Bahrain pact is expected after the details are completed.

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