Bahrain, Oman ties on cards: Israel
Bahrain and Oman could be the next Gulf countries to follow the United Arab Emirates in formalising ties with Israel, Israel’s intelligence minister said on Sunday.
“In the wake of this agreement (with the UAE) will come additional agreements, both with more Gulf countries and with Muslim countries in Africa,” intelligence minister Eli Cohen told Army Radio.
“I think that Bahrain and Oman are definitely on the agenda. In addition, in my assessment, there is a chance that already in the coming year there will be a peace deal with additional countries in Africa, chief among them, Sudan,” he said.
Both Bahrain and Oman praised the UAE-Israel accord, although neither has commented on their own prospects for normalised relations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with Omani and Sudanese leaders in the past two years.
“I expect more countries will be joining us in the peace circle,” Netanyahu told cabinet ministers on Sunday, according to a statement from his office.
A senior US official said on Friday that the White House had been in touch with “numerous” countries in the region, trying to see if more agreements would materialise.
The official declined to name the countries but said they were Arab and Muslim nations in West Asia and Africa.
On Thursday, Israel and the UAE announced they would normalise diplomatic ties and forge a broad new relationship. The deal, brokered with the US help, firms up opposition to regional power Iran.
Israel signed peace agreements with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. But the UAE, along with most other Arab nations, has had no formal diplomatic or economic relations with it.
Bahrain, a close ally of Saudi Arabia, hosted a senior Israeli official at a security conference in 2019 as well as a US-led conference on boosting the Palestinian economy as part US President Donald Trump’s West Asia peace initiative.
Telephone lines between the UAE and Israel were open on Sunday, calls made by Reuters reporters showed, after the two countries moved to normalise diplomatic relations last week.
It was not clear when exactly a block on telephone calls made from the UAE to Israel was lifted, but historically calls were not possible.
The UAE’s Telecoms Regulatory Authority did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
More Israeli news websites that were previously blocked in the UAE were also now able to be viewed on UAE Internet connections on Sunday.
An official in Israel’s communication ministry told Reuters that any previous block on calls between the two countries had come from the UAE side.
“Now I understand that calls are going through,” the official said.
The UAE has summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires in Abu Dhabi in response to a speech by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that the foreign ministry described as “unacceptable”, state news agency WAM said on Sunday.
Rouhani said in a speech on Saturday the UAE had made a “huge mistake” in reaching an agreement to normalise ties with Israel and called it a betrayal by the Gulf state.
The UAE foreign ministry said the speech was “unacceptable, inflammatory, and carrying serious repercussions for the security and stability of the Arabian Gulf region”, the statement carried by WAM said. The charge d’affaires has been given a “strongly worded memo”, WAM said.
Kuwait’s position towards Israel is unchanged after its accord with the UAE and it will be the last country to normalise relations, newspaper al-Qabas reported on Sunday citing Kuwaiti government sources.