UPDATED AT 9:57 p.m. local time — Israel and Bahrain formally declared peace and signed an agreement to establish formal diplomatic relations at a ceremony in Manama on Sunday.
A delegation of senior Israeli and American officials have arrived in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, to sign a more detailed version of the Bahrain-Israel peace agreement comprised of eight bilateral agreements, including a “Joint Communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic, peaceful, and friendly relations.”
The document did not mention the Palestinians.
“The Palestinian question must be solved through direct negotiations between the two sides to reach a solution which satisfies both parties and brings about a two state solution, according to the principles of the Arab Peace Initiative and the relevant international law,” Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani said.
Nevertheless, he saluted the Israeli government “for its responsiveness in realizing this historic step. We will work with the international community to realize people across the Middle East in the near future.”
Israel’s Head of the National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat lauded these first steps between the countries and thanked Bahrain for a warm welcome for the Israeli delegation.
“We started the day as friends and we’re concluding it as family members — members of the family of Abraham,” he said, alluding to last month’s Abraham Accords signed at the White House.
The American delegation first arrived in Israel on Saturday to hold a series of preliminary meetings together.
The group flew together on an El Al Israeli Airlines commercial jet whose special flight number was “973” — the international dialing code of Bahrain.
Head of the National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat and Foreign Ministry director-general Alon Ushpiz are leading the Israeli delegation.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is leading the U.S. delegation, along with Avi Berkowitz, a senior advisor to President Trump for the Middle East peace process.
“At a ceremony with Mnuchin at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport,” Reuters reported, Berkowitz said that Israel and Bahrain would sign a joint communique “bringing forward tourism and banking and diplomatic relations.”
The Axios news service is reporting that “sources briefed on the talks asked to sign a joint communique for now, rather than a full treaty” and noted that “the Bahrainis want to move forward more gradually than the UAE due to domestic criticism in Bahrain against the normalization move.”
Axios also reported that the communique will include the following principles:
- Israel and Bahrain will establish full diplomatic relations, open embassies and exchange ambassadors.
- Both countries will not engage in any hostile actions against one another and will act to prevent those actions on their territories by third parties.
- Both countries will commit to co-existence and to educating for peace.
- Israel and Bahrain will sign agreements on: finance and investments, civil aviation, tourism, trade, science and technology, telecommunication, health care, agriculture, water, energy and legal cooperation.