Bahrain becomes second Arab country to sign military pact with Israel 

Going against their long-term commitment to the Palestinian cause formalized through the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, Bahrain and the UAE signed normalization deals with Israel in 2020. Morocco also signed a similar deal

February 04, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Bahrain-Israel security deal
(Photo: Al-Mayadeen)

Bahrain became the first Gulf country to sign a military pact with Israel after Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz signed a security memorandum with his counterpart Abdullah Bin Hassan Al Nuaimi on Thursday, February 3.

Both the countries signed the memorandum of understanding on security relations which, according to a statement issued by Israel’s defense ministry, will “help advance intelligence cooperation, a framework for exercises and cooperation between the country’s defense industries.”

This is the first ever deal of its kind signed between Israel and a Gulf country, and the second with an Arab country. Last year, Gantz had signed a similar deal with Morocco. 

The deal was signed during Gantz’s first official visit to Bahrain. It was the second major recently diplomatic event in the region involving Israel. Israeli president Isaac Herzog became the country’s first head of state to visit the UAE last month.

The diplomatic warmth between countries in the Gulf and Israel grew following the signing of the Abraham accords in 2020. The accords were sponsored by the Donald Trump administration in the US during his last days in presidency. They are designed to normalize relations between Arab countries and Israel with the objective of ending the latter’s isolation in the region over its occupation of Palestine. 

Gantz met with Bahraini prime minister Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa and King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa after signing the deal. He also visited the headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet located in the country.   

Betrayal of Palestine 

The members of the Arab League had earlier passed the Khartoum resolution calling for a complete boycott of Israel until it frees the Palestinian lands occupied in the 1967 war. The call for the boycott was renewed in 2002 with the adoption of the Arab Peace Initiative promoted by Saudi Arabia. The initiative calls on Arab states to not normalize relations with Israel until the Palestinian statehood issue is resolved.   

Apart from the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, all of which formally normalized their relations with Israel through separate deals in 2020 and 2021, Saudi Arabia and Oman are also believed to have established clandestine relations with Israel.  

The Palestinian Authority, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and other factions in Palestine have called the normalization deals with Israel a betrayal of their cause. 

Several news outlets speculated that Israel is trying to gain a foothold in the Persian Gulf through Bahrain. According to Al-Mayadeen, Israel’s defense ministry is looking for a seaport in the country in order to build a permanent base for the Israeli navy.

Aside from pressure from the US, Bahrain and UAE’s closeness with Israel is considered to be motivated by their mutual hostility with Iran. Bahrain has accused Iran of supporting pro-democracy forces in the country. Israel considers Iran as the main backer of Hezbollah and a considerable threat to its ambitions of regional hegemony.   

Israel is also part of naval exercises in the region led by the US and involving 60 countries, including Saudi Arabia and Oman, with whom Israel has not signed any formal normalization deal yet. 

× To Subscribe