Palestinians Recall Bahrain Envoy Over 'Dangerous, Delusional' Israel Deal

In an apparent bid to calm Palestinian fears normalization would harm them, Trump said 'they're going to want to come in because all of their friends are in'

Jack Khoury
Noa Landau
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Palestinians wave national flags as they protest against the United Arab Emirates' decision to normalize ties with Israel, in the village of Turmus Aya in the West Bank, August 19, 2020.
Palestinians wave national flags as they protest against the United Arab Emirates' decision to normalize ties with Israel, in the village of Turmus Aya in the West Bank, August 19, 2020. Credit: AFP
Jack Khoury
Noa Landau

The Palestinian Authority recalled its ambassador to Manama after Bahrain struck a deal to normalize relations with Israel Friday and reversed a decades-long policy to not establish ties before the establishment of a Palestinian state.

After the deal was announced by U.S. President Donald Trump, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki recalled the Ambassador to Bahrain, citing a "dangerous violation of the Arab Peace Initiative" and "threat to Palestinian rights."

An official statement by the Palestinian Liberation Organization condemned the deal as supporting "the legalization of Israel's ugly crimes against the Palestinian people."

"It's delusional to believe that these concessions at the expense of the Palestinian people's rights will serve peace, security, and stability in the region," the PLO statement read, referring to Friday's announcement by the United States, Israel and Bahrain, which said the agreement furthers regional peace and would " enable the Palestinian people to realize their full potential."

Palestinians fear the moves by the UAE and now Bahrain will weaken a long-standing pan-Arab position that calls for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory and acceptance of Palestinian statehood in return for normal relations with Arab countries.

The agreements will likely be seen as a further setback to the Palestinians who tried unsuccessfully to have the Arab League condemn normalization with Israel until they have secured an independent state. That was one of the few cards still held by Palestinians in negotiations as peace talks remain stalled.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in a statement that the necessary steps to achieve a fair and comprehensive peace in the region should come from Israel.

Palestinians take part in a protest against normalizing ties with Israel, in Nablus the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as Arab foreign ministers meet September 9, 2020.
Palestinians take part in a protest against normalizing ties with Israel, in Nablus, September 9, 2020. Credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS

Israel should stop all its procedures to undermine the two-states solution, and end the illegal occupation of the Palestinian lands, Safadi added.

Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement the agreement is a result of “Trump playing to his base in the wake of the elections and a reward to Israel’s escalating aggression,” arguing the U.S. administration is “bullying” Arab states to “normalize Israeli colonization.”

Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization Saeb Erekat said the deal contributes to "Trump's presidential campaign at the expense of the inalienable rights of the people of Palestine. The normalization race is not the answer to the achievement of Palestinian freedom and independence."

Five days ago, Erekat tweeted that Bahrain's Foreign Minister Al Zayani told him the kingdom is committed to the Arab Peace Initiative – which promises Israel full ties with Arab states if a peace settlement is reached with the Palestinians – and that there would be no normalization with Israel before the establishment a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.  

Wassel Abu Youssef, a senior PLO official in Ramallah, said "By normalizing ties with the occupation, Bahrain is breaking all Arab resolutions. It is rejected, condemned and it represents a betrayal of the Palestinian cause."

Hamas commented that the deal is an implementation of Trump's Middle East Peace Plan, which aims to bring an end to the Palestinian cause.  

Trump, however, holds an opposing opinion, and has said these deals are beneficial to Palestinians. "You're going to have the Palestinians in a very good position, they're going to want to come in because all of their friends are in," he told reporters on Friday.

Both deals were portrayed by the Trump administration and Arab parties as promoting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The UAE deal even included suspension of Israel's plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Palestinians, however, have dismissed these statements as a fig leaf that spares the sides from pressure and criticism.

The Trump administration has tried to coax other Sunni Arab countries concerned about Iran to engage with Israel. The most powerful of those, Saudi Arabia, has signaled it is not ready. Last week, Saudi Arabia’s ruler King Salman bin Abdulaziz told Trump there would be no normalization with Israel without Palestinian statehood.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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