The foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain this week signed a historic deal with Israel to establish formal diplomatic relations in Washington DC in the presence of US President Donald Trump. The signing ceremony, also attended by Israel’s PM Benyamin Netanyahu, cements the deal agreed in August between Israel and the UAE (MEES, 14 August), while also adding Bahrain, which agreed last week to normalize ties.

The UAE and Bahrain now join Egypt and Jordan, which signed peace treaties in 1979 and 1994 respectively, as the third and fourth Arab nations to agree to normalize ties with Israel. There has been a convergence of strategic priorities in recent years as both the GCC states and Israel see Iran as a major threat, leading to growing clandestine cooperation. Saudi Arabia remains wary of normalizing relationships but is clearly on board with developments as it has permitted UAE-Israel flights to use its airspace. (CONTINUED - 197 WORDS)