Egypt's Sissi hails 'historic' accord; Iran calls it treason

Palestinians denounce Israel-Bahrain deal as another ‘stab in the back’

PA recalls its Manama envoy, says deal ‘torpedoes’ Arab Peace Initiative; PLO slams ‘betrayal of Jerusalem and the Palestinians,’ while terror group Hamas brands it an ‘aggression’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, listens to Bahrain's then Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa during an emergency Arab League session at in Cairo, Egypt, May 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, listens to Bahrain's then Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa during an emergency Arab League session at in Cairo, Egypt, May 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

The Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terror group both condemned Friday’s Israeli-Bahraini normalization deal as another “stab in the back” by an Arab state and act of “aggression” against their people.

Turkey and Iran also condemned the accord.

The agreement was “a stab in the back of the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people,” like the UAE-Israel deal announced last month, Ahmad Majdalani, social affairs minister in the West Bank-based PA, said in a statement.

“This is another stab in the back of the Palestinian cause, the Palestinian people and their rights,” echoed Wasel Abu Yousef, a senior member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. “It is a betrayal of Jerusalem and the Palestinians… We see absolutely no justification for this free normalization with Israel.”

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki recalled the Palestinian ambassador to Bahrain “for consultations on the necessary steps” in response to the normalization agreement, according to the Palestinian Authority’s official Wafa news agency.

Wafa also carried a statement in the name of the “Palestinian leadership” strongly denouncing the deal.

“This step is a token of support for legitimizing the ugly crimes of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian people,” the statement said.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, right, receives Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, in Sakhir Palace, Bahrain, February 12, 2008. (AP Photo/BNA)

The statement said the move “torpedoes” the Arab Peace Initiative, a Saudi-backed proposal adopted by the Arab League in 2002. The proposal calls for full diplomatic ties between Israel and the entire Arab and Muslim world in exchange for a “full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967,” the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a “just” and “agreed upon” solution to the Palestinian refugee question.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa had reiterated his support for the Arab Peace Initiative to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when the latter was in Manama last month as part of a Middle East trip aimed at building more relationships between the Jewish state and the Arab world following the landmark US-brokered deal with the United Arab Emirates.

“The Palestinian leadership rejects this step taken by the Kingdom of Bahrain, and calls on it to immediately take it back, as such step will gravely harm the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people and joint Arab action,” the statement on Wafa said.

“It is delusional to believe that these concessions at the expense of the Palestinian people’s rights will serve peace, security, and stability in the region,” the statement concluded.

Hamas, the terror group that controls the Gaza Strip, said it was an “aggression” that dealt “serious prejudice” to the Palestinian cause.

The denunciations echoed some of the rhetoric on the Israel-UAE deal by Palestinian leaders, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who have called that pact “despicable,” a “betrayal” and a “stab in the back.”

This combination of pictures taken on September 3, 2020 shows (L to R) representatives of Palestinian factions gathered at the Palestinian embassy in Lebanon’s capital Beirut attending by video conference talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (screen); while their counterparts in the West Bank’s Ramallah watch the speech of Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh as he speaks in Beirut during the same meeting (Anwar Amro and Alaa Badarneh/various sources/AFP)

Abbas hosted a meeting in Ramallah last week on the normalization agreement that included the leaders of terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Iran and Turkey have also denounced the UAE over its decision to normalize ties with Israel.

Several Arab countries however have expressed support for the agreement and the Arab League on Wednesday rejected a Palestinian resolution to condemn the agreement.

Khalid al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s former foreign minister and adviser to the King, said the decision to establish relations with Israel serves the interests of the region’s “security, stability and prosperity.”

“It sends a positive and encouraging message to the people of Israel, that a just and comprehensive peace with the Palestinian people is the best path,” he added in a tweet.

Iran condemned the deal as a “betrayal of Islam and a treason against the Palestinian cause.”

Turkey joined the criticism. The agreement “will further encourage Israel to continue illegitimate practices towards Palestine and its efforts to make the occupation of Palestinian lands permanent,” Ankara said.

Regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia was silent on the deal. It has refused to normalize ties until Israel signs an internationally recognized peace accord with the Palestinians.

But it has allowed virtual client state Bahrain, on the 9/11 anniversary, to follow in the footsteps of Riyadh’s ally Abu Dhabi.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi hailed the agreement as “historic.”

“I hail this important step aimed at consolidating stability and peace in the Middle East, which will achieve a just and permanent solution to the Palestinian cause,” Sissi said in a tweet.

Sissi thanked “all those who helped achieve this historic step.”

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, right, walks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi upon his arrival to attend an Arab summit at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, March 27, 2015. (AP Photo/MENA, Mohammed Samaha)

The agreement was also welcomed by the UAE.

“Congratulations to the Kingdom of Bahrain and Israel on their decision to establish full diplomatic relations. Today marks another significant and historic achievement which will contribute enormously to the stability and prosperity of the region,” tweeted Hend al-Otaiba, the director of strategic communications at the UAE’s Foreign Ministry.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi neither praised nor condemned the agreement, instead stressing that a just peace in the region had to end Israel’s rule over the Palestinians.

“The effect of the agreement to normalize relations between Bahrain and the Occupation, as with all peace agreements with Tel Aviv, depends on how [Israel] acts…It is the occupation which is the source of the conflict. An end to that occupation is the only way to realize a just, comprehensive, and durable peace,” Al-Safadi said.

Prior to the announcement of the UAE deal, the only Arab states Israel had diplomatic ties with were Egypt and Jordan. Israeli and American officials have expressed hope that other Gulf Arab countries will soon follow suit, with relations based on mutual commercial and security interests, and shared enmity toward Iran.

Oman, Morocco and Saudi Arabia are among the countries that Israel and the US hope could follow the UAE and Bahrain in forging diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. But Saudi Arabia has said it will not normalize relations until Israel agrees to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, in keeping with the decades-old stance of most Arab nations.

As part of the deal with the UAE, Israel agreed to suspend indefinitely plans to annex parts of the West Bank, an achievement Abu Dhabi has highlighted in explaining why it sought the accord.

The deal was followed by the first commercial flight between Israel and the UAE, with neighboring Saudi Arabia and Bahrain deciding to allow such flights to pass through their airspace.

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, led a delegation that visited Abu Dhabi last week on that flight. Also on the trip were US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat.

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