Bahrain Roundup 2020: Normalization with Israel...When Sovereignty is Lost

2021-06-12 - 7:43 م

Bahrain Mirror (Roundup 2020): On September 11, 2020, then US president Donald Trump announced that the occupying state of Israel and Bahrain have reached a "historic agreement" to establish full ties between them, highlighting that Bahrain is "the second Arab country [after the UAE] to make peace with Israel in 30 days," in a tweet.

A joint American, Bahraini and Israeli statement on the same day said that President Donald J. Trump, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel spoke today and agreed to the establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain. 

"This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East. Opening direct dialogue and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security, and prosperity in the region," the statement read.

The Bahraini Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullatif Al-Zayani described the step as pragmatic in facing the strategic challenges and protecting national interests. He added that the Kingdom of Bahrain affirms commitment to the principle of good neighborliness with all regional countries, considering that normalizing relations between Manama and Tel Aviv would "enhance security and stability in the region". For his part, Interior Minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa stressed that "the declaration of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Israel is a sovereign decision that represents a courageous stance reflecting His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa's wisdom and forward-looking vision." He stressed that the move will serve Bahrain's top interests and contribute to consolidating security and stability, as well as promoting progress and prosperity.

The Shura Council and House of Representative also welcomed establishing diplomatic ties between the occupying state of Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain.

They considered, according to Bahrain News Agency (BNA), that the normalization agreement is "a historic step that will help strengthen stability and peace in the region."

"While the Shura Council and Parliament bless the announcement of the establishment of relations between the Kingdom of Bahrain and Israel, they reaffirm that this move is in the interests of the security, stability and prosperity of the region and in the context of the authentic Bahraini approach and long history of promoting openness and coexistence with everyone," the statement said.

As for Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, he said: "Citizens of Israel, I am excited to inform you that tonight we will reach another peace agreement with another Arab country, Bahrain." He added: "This is a new era of peace. Peace in exchange for peace. Economy in exchange for economy."

The White House witnessed (September 15, 2020) the ceremony of signing a peace agreement between Israel and the UAE and a Peace Declaration with Bahrain under US auspices.

Before signing the two agreements, US President Donald Trump held single meetings with the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed who said "We want to bring more hope to our region."

Trump also met the Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al-Zayani before the kickoff of the signing ceremony.

"It's a historic day for peace in the Middle East," Trump said, adding that he ordered cutting funding for Palestinians because they don't respect the US. Trump commenced the ceremony by saying the peace agreement was achieved within one month, noting that Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain will exchange ambassadors, and start to cooperate among each other as friendly states.

For his part, Netanyahu said in the opening ceremony that Israel is no longer isolated, but is integrated with its surroundings more than ever before. He went on to say what's going on today puts an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict forever.

Meanwhile, Emirati FM Abdullah bin Zayed said: "We extend today a hand of peace and receive a hand of peace. Peace deals could change the face of the Middle East."

"The declaration supporting peace between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Israel is a historic step on the road to genuine and lasting peace. Genuine cooperation is the most effective means to achieve peace and to safeguard the legitimate rights," said the Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al-Zayani.

The ceremony was attended by a crowd of US officials, including Trump adviser Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as First Lady Melania Trump and Israeli Prime Minister's wife Sara Netanyahu.

Contrary to the official trend in Bahrain, which welcomed the normalization of relations with Tel Aviv, Bahrainis expressed on social media their rejection through the hashtag #Bahrainis_against_Normalization which received a wide reaction to their anger towards this step, stressing that their position remains the same on the Palestinian cause.

They reposted old photographs showing the participation of Bahraini soldiers in defending Palestine, and photos of large demonstrations denouncing the Israeli occupation, stressing that this is their permanent and continuous stance and that their opinion on the normalization process had not been taken into account.

Human rights activist Maryam Al-Khawaja posted a series of tweets both in English and Arabic under the same hashtag saying: "The people of Bahrain are not free, nor do they have any say in what the regime does or decides, locally or internationally."

"The fight for justice and freedom continues," she stressed.

Member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hanan Ashrawi, greeted (September 11, 2020) the Bahrainis who stood against normalization. "To the incredible, honorable people of Bahrain: we are overwhelmed and heartened by your support and solidarity. We never doubted your genuine commitment to Palestine. We love you,"

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh praised (September 12, 2020) the free Bahraini voices opposing the normalization deal with the Israeli occupation, adding that he is confident that Palestine and its just cause remain in the hearts of all the Arab and Islamic peoples and all the free peoples of the world.

The Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society; largest opposition society in Bahrain, described the agreement between the Bahraini regime and Israel as a total betrayal of Islam and Arabism and an abandonment of the Islamic, Arab and national consensus.

It stressed in a statement (September 11, 2020) that the Bahraini regime does not have the legitimacy to conclude an agreement with the Zionists, and the usurping entity is illegitimate.

Meanehile, Al-Wefaq Deputy Secretary-General, Sheikh Hussein Al-Daihi, criticized the "treaty of shame between the Bahraini regime and Zionist entity".

"The treaty of shame was signed between the Bahraini regime and the Zionist entity. This abnormal behavior in surrendering our central cause is not strange nor surprising, but they overlooked the historical path of those who preceded them and it will lead them to the trash heap of history," he tweeted

Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim commented in a statement (September 12, 2020) on Bahrain normalization with the Israeli enemy saying that "normalization is a misfortune and a harbinger of evil spread over the religion and the nation," adding that "it will fall when the people's will, power and governance are activated."

Al-Wefaq said that it communicated with the Palestinian leaderships and emphasized the fundamental principles and complete popular commitment to the Palestinian cause, which it dubbed "the first central cause".

Al-Wefaq's Deputy Secretary-General, Sheikh Hussein Al-Daihi, contacted the head of the political bureau of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, Secretary-General of the Islamic Jihad Movement, Ziad Nakhaleh, Deputy Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Mr. Abu Ahmed Fouad, and Arab Parties Conference Secretary General, Qassim Saleh.

Al-Daihi assured them of the position of the Bahraini people towards the Palestinian cause, the national consensus on the rejection of normalization, and the Bahraini anger towards the regime's steps taken with the Zionist enemy.

Despite the total ban on demonstrations and deployment of a number of security forces, marches denouncing the agreement were staged in different areas across Bahrain, including the capital Manama, Abu Saiba, Al-Shakhoura, Al-Sanabis, Sadad and Karana.

In Manama, citizens staged angry protests that toured the streets of the Bahraini capital. Similar demonstration were staged in Abu Saiba, in which participants held Palestinian flags and banners denouncing normalization and burnt the Israeli flag.

Demonstrations were repeated in the days following the signing of the agreement in Manama, Samaheej, Barbar, Southern Al-Sahla, Abu Saiba, Al-Shakhoura, Sitra, Safala, Sanabis, Sadad, Karbabad, Karana and other areas.

Protestors waved Palestinian flags and held photos of Al-Aqsa Mosque as well as banners that read: "No for Normalization with the Zionist Entity", "Death to Israel", "Bahrainis are against Normalization" and other slogans. They also walked over the Israeli flag and burnt it.

On September 18, 2020, several protests were staged under the title, "The Friday of Jerusalm''s Wrath" after Friday prayers in a number of villages, amid wide and heavy security presence.

Photos and videos on social media platforms showed dozens of people taking to the streets in Abu Saiba. Protestors held flags of Bahrain and Palestine and chanted "Normalization is Betrayal".

Al-Wefaq said in a statement that it documented more than 150 protests against normalization in more than 55 villages in different provinces, despite strict security measures.

Four Sunni political societies (Al-Menbar Islamic Society, Al-Asalah (Salafist) group, National Unity Assembly and Al-Saaf Islamic Society) issued a statement that read: "We do not dispute our political leadership's right to take political positions in coordination with the legislative authority in the face of political, security and economic developments." This statement was met with criticism, Hakeem Al-Sobhi, founding member of the National Unity Gathering society, described the statement as "a retreat from previous positions on the Palestinian cause". "The statement issued by the National Unity Gathering, Al-Menbar Islamic Society and Al-Asalah, unfortunately, reveals a retreat from the previous stances on the Palestinian cause and the issue of normalization with the Zionist enemy (...) as a founding member, I don't see it representing me, and I think it doesn't represent many members."

Bahraini Democratic Youth Society strongly condemned in a statement (September 11, 2020) this announcement and what followed the tripartite Bahraini-American-Zionist statement declaring a peace agreement and relations with the Zionist entity.

It stressed that this stance doesn't reflect the people of Bahrain, reiterating the stance of loyal Bahraini people towards the Palestinian people over the past decades.

February 14 Youth Coalition deplored Bahrain's normalization with Israel, stressing in a statement (September 11, 2020) that the people of Bahrain will not recognize Israel and that they have already been "stabbed by a regime that has no popular acceptance."

Bahraini Society Against Normalization with the Zionist Enemy deplored the agreement of normalizing relations between Bahrain and Israel, stressing that "this doesn't reflect the stance of the Bahraini people supporting the Palestinian people. Our Bahraini people will continue to support the cause of our heroic Palestinian people until the liberation of Palestine."

Al-Menbar Islamic Society expressed (September 12, 2020) its rejection of all forms of normalization with the Zionist entity, considering that normalization between Bahrain and the Israeli entity represents a retreat from Bahrain's previous pro-Palestine stances, noting that this position came after an extraordinary meeting of the Political Bureau.

143 Bahraini clerics affirmed their rejection of normalization with the Zionist entity. The relogious scholars stressed that, "based on our adopted religious values and principles of our Islamic and Arab nation, we do not accept normalization, in all its forms and levels, with the usurper Zionist entity." They also reiterated their religious stance on the Palestinian cause and the right of the oppressed Palestinian people to restore their full rights and lands without any exception.

17 Bahraini political and civil society organizations stressed (September 16) that normalization with Israel does not represent the people of the kingdom and will not yield peace. It said that the news of the normalization agreement between Bahrain and Israel "caused a huge shock, resentment and widespread popular rejection among the Bahraini people, their political and civil society organizations, and all national figures and personalities in our country."

A number of sports, religious and social institutions were threatened and intimidated by the regime into issuing stances in support of the agreement.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the PLO Executive Committee, announced (September 11, 2020) immediately recalling the Palestinian ambassador to Manama, based on President Mahmoud Abbas directives.

He said that the ambassadors will be recalled from any state that agrees on normalization.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al Malik noted there was an "immediate summons of the Palestinian ambassador to Manama to consult and discuss the necessary steps towards the normalization agreement."

The Palestinian Authority condemned normalizing relations with Israel. It said in a statement that "the Palestinian leadership strongly rejects and condemns the American-Bahraini-Israeli tripartite declaration on the normalization of relations between the occupying state of Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain." The statement called the move "a betrayal of Al-Quds, Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause".

The Palestinian leadership added that it deems this step "very dangerous, as it constitutes a blow to the Arab peace initiative, the resolutions of Arab and Islamic summits and international legitimacy."

Hamas considered that Bahrain's normalization of ties with Israel an insistence on implementing the terms of the US peace plan which "obliterates the Palestinian cause".

"Joining these countries on the path of normalization makes them complicit with the Deal of the Century which is an aggression on our people," said Hazim Qasim, a Hamas spokesman.


Arabic Version