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President Trump. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The White House on Friday announced that Bahrain is joining the United Arab Emirates in normalizing ties with Israel.

Driving the news: In a phone call between President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain's King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Israeli and Bahraini leaders agreed to establish full diplomatic relations between the two countries.

  • Israeli officials tell Axios that over the last two weeks, the White House has been pressing Bahrain to follow the UAE, which announced last month that it would open full diplomatic relations with Israel.
  • Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Manama, the capital of Bahrain, recently and asked the king and crown prince of Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: The deal is a win for the Trump administration, which has sought to broker Middle East peace and strengthen ties with Israel.

  • It's also a major breakthrough for Israel, which lacks diplomatic recognition in many Middle Eastern countries, but has steadily improved relations in the Gulf, largely due to mutual antipathy toward Iran.

What they're saying: "Another HISTORIC breakthrough today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain agree to a Peace Deal – the second Arab country to make peace with Israel in 30 days!" Trump tweeted on Friday.

  • The U.S. president told reporters at the White House that when he took office “the Middle East was in a state of absolute chaos."
  • Trump added that he “can see a lot of good things happening with respect to the Palestinians,” and noted that “something very positive” can happen with Iran.
  • Netanyahu thanked Trump, saying in a statement that “it took Israel 26 years to reach peace with a third Arab country – the United Arab Emirates. Now it took 29 days to reach peace with a forth Arab country – Bahrain." The Israeli prime minister added that more normalization agreements with other Arab countries will follow.
  • Bahrain's King Al-Khalifa told Trump and Netanyahu on the phone call that just and comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians must be achieved and should be based on the two-state solution and UN resolutions, the Bahraini news agency reported.
  • The UAE foreign ministry welcomed the Israel-Bahrain deal:
    • "Congratulations to the Kingdom of Bahrain and Israel on their decision to establish full diplomatic relations. Today marks another significant and historic achievement which will contribute enormously to the stability and prosperity of the region."

What to watch: A "treaty of peace" between the UAE and Israel is expected to be signed next week, mirroring previous agreements between the Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

  • The Trump administration said that the Bahraini foreign minister will also be at the signing ceremony on Tuesday and will sign “a declaration of peace” with Netanyahu.

Go deeper

Dec 15, 2020 - World

U.S.-Israeli delegation to travel to Morocco to discuss resuming diplomatic ties

Kushner (R) with Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat (L) in Abu Dhabi in August. Photo: Karim Sahib/AFP via Getty Images

A senior U.S.-Israeli delegation will travel to Morocco next Tuesday to begin talks on resuming diplomatic relations between Israel and Morocco, traveling on the first-ever direct flight of an Israeli airline from Tel Aviv to Rabat, U.S. officials told me.

Why it matters: The trip will take place 10 days after President Trump announced that the U.S. would recognize Western Sahara as part of Morocco, a historic and controversial decision that paved the way for Morocco to begin the process of normalizing diplomatic ties with Israel.

Top 2020 Dems wouldn't reverse Trump's Jerusalem embassy decision

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 Democratic presidential front-runners have accepted President Trump's Jerusalem move.

The bottom line: Over the last week, Axios reached out to all of the top tier candidates, and not one of them — including former Vice President Joe Biden — would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv.

Nov 19, 2019 - World

Behind the scenes of Trump's shift on Israeli settlements

(L-R) Pompeo, Netanyahu and Friedman visit the Western Wall Tunnels in Jerusalem. Photo: Abir Sultan/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman pushed for a change to the U.S. position on the legality of Israeli settlements early in the Trump administration, but former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson opposed the move.

Behind the scenes: Friedman, the key driver behind the major policy shift announced yesterday, raised the issue again when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came in. This time he got a "green light," U.S. officials tell me.