Breaking: Trump to announce Bahrain joining agreement to normalize relations with Israel? Update: Axios confirms

Breaking: Trump to announce Bahrain joining agreement to normalize relations with Israel? Update: Axios confirms

Set the table for three on Tuesday, at least according to the Jerusalem Post. The White House will host a signing ceremony for normalizing relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, but it now appears that Bahrain will also sign an agreement recognizing Israel. Reportedly, Trump will announce this at some time today:


US President Donald Trump is expected to announce a historic normalization agreement between Israel and Bahrain on Friday, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

A source in the know confirmed that Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa would be in Washington ahead of a White House ceremony on Tuesday where Israel and the United Arab Emirates will formally establish ties.

“You’ll be hearing other countries coming in over a relatively short period of time. And you could have peace in the Middle East,” Trump told a White House news conference on Thursday.

Trump said it was possible another country could soon join the diplomatic accord between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. However, he did not disclose the name of the country that might be the next to join, but predicted that Saudi Arabia would eventually do so.

That makes three Israeli media outlets to report this development. Raphael Ahren of the Times of Israel also reported on Twitter that Trump would announce the deal with Bahrain today, as did Amichai Stein, the diplomatic beat reporter for Kan. Ahren reported that the announcement would come today at 1 pm ET:

US President Donald Trump is expected to announce on Friday that Bahrain is joining the United Arab Emirates in normalizing ties with Israel, two officials familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel.

According to the officials, Trump will make the announcement at the White House at 1 p.m. Eastern time. It was not immediately clear whether Bahrain will join the formal signing of the so-called UAE-Israel Abraham Accord at the White House on September 15, or simply issue a statement about its intention to establish relations with Israel.


Stein and the Jerusalem Post sound pretty convinced that Bahrain will take part in Tuesday’s signing ceremony. That would make sense, especially since neither country has exactly made a secret of their desire to put an end to the nonsense surrounding Israel’s existence in the region. The Arab League rebuke of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians this week certainly made that clear enough; the Sunni Arab nations have run out of patience.

Jared Kushner said the same thing Wednesday. “We’ll see what happens and for how long, you know, they want to do it,” Kushner said about the hesitancy to join the UAE in recognizing Israel. “But I will say that a lot of people are losing patience with the Palestinian leadership.”

If Bahrain intends on joining the table on Tuesday, it’s now only a matter of time before the Saudis do the same. Bahrain has a close relationship with the Saudis, and it had been expected that they would not act unless Riyadh approved it. This seems like the Saudis are tacitly approving these moves, almost certainly as a result of the Trump administration’s decision to rally them together against Iran.

The Saudis might hold out to force Abbas to come to the table himself. They’re now in a powerful position to exert that kind of leverage, and they might even decide to demand that the Palestinians stop engaging with Iran altogether as their own prerequisite to hold off on recognizing Israel. That would put Hamas in a tight squeeze between Egypt, the Saudis, Israel, and the US, along with the Fatah faction that runs the West Bank. Partnering with Iran turned out to be the biggest strategic mistake the Palestinians made since 1948 — and that’s really saying something.


The solution is obvious … and has been for decades. When they finally take it, Abbas and the PA will have to explain decades of hardship they created in promising maximalist results while eventually taking a deal they could have had twenty, thirty, or forty years ago. Good luck with that one, Abu Mazen.

Update: Axios appears to be the first US outlet to independently confirm the story, or at least the first to publish a confirmation:

The White House will announce later today that Bahrain is joining the United Arab Emirates in normalizing ties with Israel, senior Israeli and Arab officials tell Axios, and a Trump administration official confirmed.

Driving the news: Israeli officials say that in 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.

President Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Manama recently and asked the King and Crown Prince of Bahrain to normalize relations with Israel, sources tell Axios.

The Saudis still likely had to sign off on this. Watch Riyadh carefully the next few days, and don’t be surprised if Abbas makes a flight there sometime soon.

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John Sexton 8:40 PM on September 21, 2023