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Bahrain king calls for ‘intensified efforts’ to implement two-state solution

At UN, Hamad hails normalization with Israel as ’embodiment of our resolute approach to openness and coexistence with all,’ urges Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa speaks during a meeting with US President Donald Trump, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa speaks during a meeting with US President Donald Trump, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa on Thursday hailed his decision to normalize relations with Israel but also called for the establishment of a Palestinian state based on previous peace plans.

“From of our keenness to preserve the security and stability of the region, and as an embodiment of our resolute approach to openness and coexistence with all, we have announced the establishment of relations with the State of Israel, sending a civilized message affirming that our hand is extended for a just and comprehensive peace, as it is the best guarantee for the future of all peoples of the region,” he declared in a taped speech screened to UN delegates in New York.

The monarch welcomed the United Arab Emirates’ “courageous” decision to establish full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state “in exchange for stopping Israel’s annexation of the Palestinian lands.” With this step, Abu Dhabi has “enhanced opportunities for peace, reduced tensions, and given the people of the region a new era of understanding, rapprochement and peaceful coexistence, while preserving its firm position on the Palestinian issue.”

The UAE signed a full peace treaty with Israel at the White House on September 15. At the same Abraham Accords ceremony at the White House, Bahrain, a tiny island nation close to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, signed a Declaration of Peace with Israel that provides for the two countries to establish full diplomatic relations.

Bahrain calls for “intensified efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in accordance with the two-state solution,” King Hamad went on in his UN address.

“We consider this a cornerstone for achieving a just and comprehensive peace leading to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, based on the resolutions of international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative, in order enter a new stage of work in which we extend bridges of good neighborly relations to build and develop the common interests of the countries of the region.”

On Wednesday, a delegation of Israeli businessmen and senior officials traveled to Manama for several hours of meetings to hammer out the details of a full peace agreement between the two countries, to be signed in the near future.

A day earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Bahrain’s crown prince, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, in their first public conversation since Jerusalem and Manama signed their declaration of peace in Washington.

During the call, the crown prince “underscored the importance of securing regional and international stability and enhancing efforts to support peace in the region,” according to the state-run Bahrain News Agency. Salman further noted that “the agreement signed at the White House on September 15 will strengthen regional security, stability and prosperity.”

Netanyahu and the future king of the tiny island nation also “reviewed potential areas of bilateral cooperation and relevant regional and international developments,” according to the agency.

Netanyahu later released a statement saying that he took a break from important discussions about Israel’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic to take the crown prince’s call, which he called an “important national need.”

The prime minister said he and Salman had an “outstanding conversation, very friendly.”

(L-R) Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan hold up documents as they participate in the signing of the Abraham Accords, where the countries of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recognize Israel, at the White House in Washington, DC, September 15, 2020 (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

The two leaders reiterated the content of the so-called Abraham Accords that both nations signed last week, and discussed “how we might quickly add content to the agreements between Bahrain and Israel and turn this peace into economic peace, technological peace, tourist peace, peace in all of these fields,” he said in a statement. “You will hear about the practical steps very soon.”

In their “Declaration of Peace,” the two countries committed to “open an era of friendship and cooperation in pursuit of a Middle East region that is stable, secure and prosperous for the benefit of all states and peoples in the region.”

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