Bahrain-Israel Ties: The Second Wicket Has Fallen


The UAE-Israel formalisation of ties on August 14, 2020 1, was a bang and Bahrain-Israel normalisation of ties declared on September 12, 2020 2 turned out to be a whimper. The reason is plain and obvious. It was very much on the expected lines as the sprawling presence in the backdrop of all these ‘deals’ is Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and it won’t be out of place to  contend that very soon all the 22-Arab states are to open-up with their embassies with Israel, KSA may be will be the last, with Iran and Pakistan remaining as exceptions.  The president of US Donald Trump took to his twitter 3  to announce the deal after he had talks with Bahrain King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa and Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu on September 12, 2020.

trump tweet

It may be made clear that the cog around whom this entire project of ‘normalisation’ is going on is none other than the son-in-law of Donald Trump Jared Kushner, who accorded the latest Bahran-Israel embrace as his ‘culmination of four years of great work’ . In fact Kushner has made it long clear that there is a growing envy between the Gulf-states as to why UAE could fathom ‘as first’ in the priority of Israel and that no wonder very soon all the 22-Arab states are likely to end up embracing Israel. The world, surely, is battling with the spread of COVID-19 pandemic but the whole scenario is just turning out to be only in the advantage of Israel. No doubt, the blasts of Beirut on August 4, 2020 4 , in which Lebanon Ex. Home Minister Nohad Machnouk 5 has openly accused Israel to be behind it, has intimated the Arab states to a great extent, particularly also because Donald Trump for twice has referred the blasts to have been a kind of an attack 6 , that all have started to succumb to it. Trump who is just gearing-up for his November 2020 elections is on ‘accolades collection spree’ as his pro-policies towards Israel have become all too well known. He has been staunchly pro-Israel as he annulled the Obama Iran-US nuclear deal, then moved US embassy to Jerusalem, put shutters on Palestine Liberation Office in Washington DC and gave recognition to the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights. His deal-of-the-century announced in January 2020, is nothing but the ‘annexation-plan’ of the West Bank in Palestine, which he is determined to prove to US public that he would make it come true after his second tenure in office.

Jared Kushner is also the chief advisor to Donald Trump on Middle-East affairs.  His concomitance to the regional politics is that on September 1, 2020 he had predicted the Bahrain saga was to happen as Bahrain was to join the chorus with Israel. While talking to Emirates News Agency, WAM, he had put it very clearly that ‘It is possible and “logical” that all the 22 Arab states could normalise ties with Israel one day, (and also ‘ revealed that the world could witness the fourth Arab state normalising ties with Israel in months..  Kushner had headed headed a US-Israeli top-level delegation which started a historic visit to the UAE, flying on the first-ever commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi. Asked if he believed it could be possible to see all the 22 Arab states normalising relations with Israel one day, Kushner responded quickly by saying, “100%”. 7  The obvious reaction from Palestine Authority was that “rejects this step taken by the Kingdom of Bahrain and calls on it to immediately retreat from it due to the great harm it causes to the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people and joint Arab action”. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), based in Ramallah, the occupied West Bank, called the normalisation “another treacherous stab to the Palestinian cause”. And in Gaza, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said Bahrain’s decision to normalise relations with Israel “represents a grave harm to the Palestinian cause, and it supports the occupation”, reported Al Jazeera 8 on September 12, 2020. Bahrain had experienced the Arab-Spring in 2011 and KSA led its forces to crush it , hence, Bahrain could save its kingship, to the courtesies of KSA and it is therefore KSA which has now called for its shots and made Bahrain open-up to Israel.

The role of Yossi Cohen, the Israel intelligence agency (Mossad) chief, needs also to be put into perspective. His footprints in the backdrop are everywhere to be found as he had ‘visited UAE several times to broker the historic accord to normalize ties between the UAE and Israel, and was Jerusalem’s point man for arranging the agreement,’ according Times of Israel 9 , which informed his feat just before the declaration on August 14, 2020, and very understandably he was back to UAE again, just two days later to the normalisation deal, as was reported in Al Jazeera on August 18, 2020 10 . The façade which UAE maintains is that ‘normalisation’ happened in lieu of Israel’s ‘annexation-plan’ of the West Bank, which of course, the world knows better has been put-off only temporarily, as Donald Trump, is to make it possible with renewed rigour once the elections find him elected in November 2020.  Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu has already officially declared that the ‘annexation-plan’ is very much ‘still on the table’ 11 , this announcement he made ironically before the formalisation on August 13, 2020, in order to clear the mist that the ‘deal’ has nothing to do with the ultimate plan of ‘annexation’. Only UAE and now Bahrain can call the Israel bluff.

The prelude the Bahrain move had to be first sketched from the religious perspective, as after all Jared Kusher declaration of September 1, 2020, had to be complied with, hence, on September 4, 2020 KSA chief priest of the grand mosque of Mecca Abdul Rehman Al Sudais, gave a clear orchestrated sermon, dictated by the KSA regime, that signalled the Bahrain call coming. In The Jerusalem Post, report on September 6, 2020, there is an entire article based on Sudais Friday sermon, ‘In his sermon, Sudais said that  12 Islam requires Muslims to respect non-Muslims and treat them well. He pointed out that Prophet Mohammed “performed ablution from a polytheistic water bottle and died while his shield was mortgaged to a Jew.” It is a well known fact that the Imam cannot wag his tongue unless a signal comes from the top hierarchy and no wonder his sermon led to a wave of protesting voices from the entire Middle-East, but then, when the state is in conduit to its liaison there is no room left for speculation.

If the headline of The New York Times can be heeded  (September 11, 2020), it says, ‘Bahrain Says It’s Time to Embrace Israel. The Gulf Hears a Saudi Voice’  13 which makes it all the more clear that KSA supervised the whole Bahrain deal, paving way for the analysts to conclude that the downward toil to ‘all this spoilsport’ stems its origin from the once so-called Arab Spring, which began in 2011, and this is what it has resulted to.   This Arab-Spring or the Arab Autumn was to have its second-wave as it was warned to the Arab-states of mass-uprisings, as what had been ‘snapshot’ inside Jerusalem on August 2, 2020, where 60,000 protestors had gathered outside the official residence of Netanyahu 14, then came the Beirut blasts on August 4, 2020, which became a ‘double-whammy’ as Trump had called it an attack! This all made the Arab-states become sheepish to succumb to their fait accompli.

It is only a matter of months or may be a few years when KSA is to forge full-diplomatic ties with Israel, as it may be recalled that KSA crown prince MbS, who is having a sword of damsel hanging on his head, as US court has issued a summon against him 15 , has long back trended to soften his stand on Israel when he had called that Israel had the right to its land-that was in 2018 16 . If cricket parlance can be referred, then it is now a show of a heavy titled-pitch in favour of Israel against some fearsome  bowling by US, which makes it impossible for the Gulf-states to face the onslaught, and no wonder, the score would soon be all the 22- wickets lost and an innings-defeat by Israel.

The writer is a former Uttar Pradesh State Information Commissioner. He writes on national and international politics.




















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