US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is touring the Middle East in a quest to have other Arab countries sign on to the US-brokered deal that Israel and the United Arab Emirates made earlier this month. He was met with rejection Wednesday in Bahrain, where the king told Pompeo that the Gulf state will not normalize ties with Israel and is committed to the creation of a Palestinian state.
The UAE is the third Arab country to agree to normalize relations with Israel after Egypt and Jordan. The deal was rejected by the Palestinians, who called it a “stab in the back” and has been panned in Israel after it was revealed that the US plans to sell the UAE weapons systems.
Like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Israel share a common powerful enemy, namely Iran. Members of the Trump administration had hoped that fear of their mutual enemy would force Arab nations to the table. But these nations, perhaps sensing blowback, have been wary of following the UAE’s lead.
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa told Pompeo that Bahrain will exchange peace and the normalization of relations only if Israel completely withdraws from the Palestinian territories occupied after 1967, the official Bahrain News Agency reported.
“The king stressed the importance of intensifying efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict according to the two-state solution … to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” the agency reported.