Israel is set to move forward with its recently inked normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain this week, with a delegation from Jerusalem set to travel to Manama and a delegation from the UAE visiting the Jewish state for the first time for talks on economic cooperation.
The Israeli delegation heading to Manama on Sunday will make history by taking the first-ever commercial nonstop flight from Israel to the Gulf kingdom. Ben Gurion Airport departure listings show El Al Flight 973, the same number as Bahrain’s international telephone code, Reuters reported.
However, Manama is also slowing the pace of proceedings toward the signing of a full-fledged peace deal, the Walla news site reported Friday, with the kingdom preferring to sign “a joint communique on establishing peaceful and diplomatic relations,” stopping short of the full normalization agreement signed between Israel and the UAE.
According to the Walla report, also published on the US Axios news site, the Bahrainis want to move forward more cautiously than the UAE due to some domestic opposition to the move.
Nevertheless, the communique was still considered to be progress and expands on the initial declaration signed in Washington.
“The aim of the communique is to start implementing the declaration which was signed in Washington, put more meat into it, make it more detailed and define the principles of the relations between the countries,” an official told Walla.
“It will be the umbrella for all bilateral agreements to be signed in the next several months,” the unnamed official said.
In addition to the already agreed establishment of full diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies, the communique will see both sides commit to not engage in any hostile actions against one another and act to prevent such actions on their territories by third parties.
It will also highlight the areas of intended cooperation: investment, civil aviation, tourism, trade, science and technology, the environment, communications, health, agriculture, water, energy and legal affairs.
A US delegation led by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House peace envoy Avi Berkowitz will participate in the Bahrain talks. Leading the Israeli delegation will be National Security Council Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz.
Despite only being an interim document, the declaration with Bahrain may well be brought before the cabinet for ratification and possibly before the Knesset as well, Walla reported.
On Tuesday, a delegation from the UAE will arrive in Israel to move forward with Abu Dhabi’s respective normalization agreement. The UAE and Israel are further along in the process, having agreed to normalize relations a month before Bahrain followed suit. Accordingly, Israel and the UAE signed a more detailed peace agreement, which is believed to carry more legal weight than the peace declaration signed with Bahrain.
One month ago the Abraham Accords were signed at the @WhiteHouse. Today, Israel’s Knesset voted and approved it! Congrats to @realDonaldTrump, Jared Kushner and the whole team. (???? by Shealah Craighead of the WH) pic.twitter.com/QR89wJFC6h
— Avi Berkowitz (@aviberkow45) October 15, 2020
Due to concerns regarding the coronavirus though, the UAE delegation may not leave Ben Gurion Airport and fly home the same day.
“Right now it looks kind of ‘touch and go’. It’s possible that the meetings will be at the airport or close to it,” Science and Technology Minister Yizhar Shai told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM on Friday.
On Thursday, the Knesset approved Israel’s normalization deal with the UAE with an overwhelming majority, all but ensuring that it will be ratified in the near future.
Eighty lawmakers voted in favor of the agreement, including many from the opposition. Only 13 parliamentarians — all from the Arab-majority Joint List — voted against the agreement, criticizing it as a scheme to undermine the Palestinian people.
Now approved by the Knesset, the so-called Abraham Accords will return to the desks of ministers, who will vote on them once more. Once ratified, the agreement enters into force for Israel, but full diplomatic relations between the two countries will not be established until the UAE ratifies the agreement as well.
Emirati officials have started the process of approving and ratifying the agreement, which was signed by the two parties in Washington on September 15, but it is unclear when it will conclude.
Once both parties have ratified the agreement, the treaty will be transmitted to the secretary-general of the United Nations for registration in the UN Treaty Series, a massive compendium of international treaties.