Bahrain – No change in Israel relationship due to elections

Manama reportedly not concerned by new right-wing Israeli government; it had signed its historic normalization agreement in 2020 with Netanyahu.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Bahrain does not plan on changing its relationship with Israel after the politically right-wing and religiously conservative bloc won the elections last week, a Bahraini royal adviser said Saturday, according to a Reuters report.

“We have an agreement with Israel, part of the Abraham Accords, and we will stick to our agreement and we expect it to continue in the same line and continue building our partnership together,” Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told reporters.

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory, he said, was “normal and always expected.”

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates had signed the historic normalization agreement with Israel known as the Abraham Accords in 2020, when Netanyahu led the country. It was largely considered to be a push against the Iranian threat that all three countries feel, and which hasn’t changed in the last two years.

This was alluded to when in response to a question about a multi-lateral approach to security in the region that includes the Jewish state, al Khalifa said, “We will want to make an example and succeed together and face all the threats.”

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In an additional comment on the subject, the diplomatic adviser said, “We would like to make sure that we don’t have to reach a day that we will face some deterioration of security in the region of any sort.”

Joint efforts to project strength against Iran have steadily risen over the last two years.

Both countries have participated in American-led regional defense exercises. Last month, after a joint paratrooper jump with UAE and American troops to mark the Accords’ second anniversary, Bahraini military and senior IDF commanders also held bilateral talks.

The two sides “engaged in strategic discussions, analyzing situations and making plans for cooperation for the future,” said one participant, Maj. Gen. Itai Veruv, commander of the Depth Corps and Military Colleges.

Manama is also reportedly very interested in receiving Israeli military equipment, including anti-missile systems such as the Iron Dome.

Israel will be participating for the first time this week in the Bahrain International Airshow, an annual weapons exhibition. In its large pavilion, various companies such as Israel Aerospace Industries will be showing off aviation products such as radars, air defense systems, drone defense, and other products. Live demonstrations of Israel’s cutting-edge defense technology will be held.

In a separate Reuters report, a well-known Emirati political analyst, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, said that the main negative impact of the hardline Right victory would be felt mainly on the Palestinian track, but that would not affect the burgeoning regional ties.

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“People here (in the Gulf) will consider this as Israeli politics and Israeli internal issues that we have nothing to do with and we are happy to deal with whomever the Israeli people choose as their leader,” he said.

While Lebanon reacted to the elections by saying the new government would not be able to annul the newly-signed maritime border deal as Netanyahu had said he would do if he won, and Jordanian officials expressed “worry,” Arab states further afield kept their silence.

The Arab League Summit in Algeria that concluded the day after Israelis went to the polls contented itself with a closing statement that strongly supported the Palestinians but said nothing about Israel itself. Meeting for the first time since 2019, it did not take a position on the Abraham Accords either, thus papering over the deep differences between the more rejectionist and accommodating countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

After having just returned to full diplomatic relations with Israel in August, regional leader Turkey had been careful to state following the elections that the results wouldn’t affect the newly warming ties between the two countries.