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Israel and Bahrain agree to normalise relations

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during his visit to the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during his visit to the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.   -   Copyright  Alex Kolomoisky/Pool Photo via AP
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Bahrain has become the latest Arab nation to recognise Israel, according to an announcement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday.

"Citizens of Israel, I am moved to inform you that tonight we have reached another peace agreement with another Arab country, Bahrain.

"This agreement is in addition to the historic peace accord with the United Arab Emirates," Netanyahu said in a statement in Hebrew.

Bahrain agreeing to normalise ties with Israel came as part of a broader diplomatic push by President Donald Trump and his administration to fully integrate the Jewish state into the Middle East.

Trump made a separate announcement on the agreement via Twitter, saying the accord came following a three-way phone call he had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

“Another HISTORIC breakthrough today!” Trump tweeted.

The three leaders also issued a brief six-paragraph joint statement, attesting to the deal.

The announcement came less than a week before Trump hosts a White House ceremony to mark the establishment of full relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Bahrain’s foreign minister will attend the event.

Friday marked the 19th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, with Trump saying: “There’s no more powerful response to the hatred that spawned 9/11 than this agreement.”

Like the UAE agreement, Friday’s Bahrain-Israel deal will normalise diplomatic, commercial, security and other relations between the two countries.

Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, had already dropped a prohibition on Israeli flights using its airspace. Saudi acquiescence to the agreements has been considered key to the deals.

The joint statement made passing mention of the Palestinians, saying the parties will continue efforts “to achieve a just, comprehensive, and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to enable the Palestinian people to realise their full potential.”

Critics of Israel's deal with the UAE said it was no more than a publicity stunt, adding that it doesn't represent a meaningful transformation in relations.

They said the one party who would bear the brunt of the move, Palestine, was not involved in the deal.

Indeed, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority labelled the agreement a "betrayal" of the Palestinian cause.