Bahrain minister says Israel deal strengthens kingdom in face of Iran threat
Interior minister says Manama remains committed to Palestinians, but needs ‘strong allies to confront potential threats’
The interior minister of Bahrain said on Monday that the normalization deal with Israel was not a disavowal of the Palestinians, but a move to fortify the kingdom in light of the security threat from Iran.
“It is not an abandonment of the Palestinian cause… it is to strengthen Bahrainis’ security and their economic stability,” said Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, according to the Reuters news agency. “If Palestine is our Arab cause, then Bahrain is our fateful cause.”
“Iran has chosen to behave in a dominating way in several forms and has become a constant danger that harms our internal security,” Khalifa said. “The regional situation makes us deal with ongoing threats for the past years, in which most of them were deterred. It isn’t wise to see the threat and wait for it to reach us if we can in any way avoid it.”
“We are a state that is determined to develop our national capabilities, and our old and modern strategy is based on strong allies to confront potential threats,” he said.
US President Donald Trump announced on Friday that Bahrain will normalize its ties with Israel, following its neighbor the United Arab Emirates, which announced normalization last month. The White House brokered both agreements.
Israel, the UAE and Bahrain share Iran as a common foe and maintain close ties to Washington.
Bahrain has accused Iran of instigating protests by the nation’s Shiite Muslim community, which makes up the majority of its population, against the ruling Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty.
The kingdom relied on a Saudi intervention to crush dissent in 2011 during the Arab Spring. The tiny island country borders Saudi Arabia, one of Iran’s main foes, and relies heavily on Riyadh for financial support.
The White House will host Israel, the UAE and Bahrain for a signing ceremony on Tuesday.
The Palestinians were made livid by the normalization deals, denouncing them as “despicable,” a “betrayal,” and a “stab in the back.”
An Israeli official on Monday declined to reveal whether the agreements that will be signed on Tuesday will include Israeli commitments toward the Palestinians. Israel agreed to shelve its plans to annex parts of the West Bank as part of its deal with the UAE.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke with his Bahraini counterpart on Monday in the first public contact between the two officials.