Israel, Bahrain sign agreement establishing diplomatic relations

Israel and Bahrain formally declare that they have made peace and established formal diplomatic relations.

The head of the Israeli delegation, National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat (L), and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, sign the Israel-Bahrain accord formalizing diplomatic relations, in the Bahraini capital Manama, on October 18, 2020. US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (C) looks on. (RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP)

At a ceremony in Manama, Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani sign eight bilateral agreements, including a “Joint Communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic, peaceful and friendly relations.”

The agreements provide for the opening of embassies, and are said to include no mention of the Palestinians.

The signed memoranda of understanding cover fields including the commercial, agricultural, and technological arenas.

The countries promise not to take hostile actions against one another and to act against hostile actions by third countries.

The diplomatic accord is not legally a treaty but rather a “framework agreement,” Israeli officials said, stressing, however, that with the signing Israel and Bahrain have formally established diplomatic relations.

It is currently unclear whether the accord will be brought to the Israeli cabinet and/or the Knesset for approval. It appears likely that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit would require the agreement to be okayed by ministers at the very least, as it contains several obligations on Israel’s part.

Moments before the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Al-Zayani and with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who headed the US delegation to Manama that flew together with the Israeli officials. Netanyahu welcomed the accord and hailed the historic signing ceremony as a “giant step” toward peace.

“The Prime Minister also welcomed the first flight from Israel to Bahrain, which landed today, and said that it was a continuation of the breakthrough toward peace,” according to a readout of the call provided by his office.

— Raphael Ahren

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