Bahrain’s establishment of peace with Israel has not quelled its pursuit of a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
“We have announced the establishment of relations with the State of Israel, sending a civilized message affirming that our hand is extended for a just and comprehensive peace, as it is the best guarantee for the future of all peoples of the region,” he said in a virtual address to mark the opening of the 75th UNGA.
Bahrain had followed the example set by the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa said, as he lauded it for its “courageous,” “successful” and “blessed step” on behalf of regional peace.
The UAE reached a “historic peace agreement” with Israel, under the auspices and efforts of the United States of America, in exchange for stopping Israel’s annexation of the Palestinian lands,” he said.
On Thursday, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said annexation had been suspended, not halted. There would be no call for Israel to evacuate settlements, he said at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference.
At the UN, Khalifa spoke of his country’s continued dedication to the Palestinians.
In establishing ties with Israel, the UAE has “enhanced opportunities for peace, reduced tensions and given the people of the region a new era of understanding, rapprochement and peaceful coexistence, while preserving its firm position on the Palestinian issue,” he said.
“The Kingdom of Bahrain calls for intensified efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in accordance with the two-state solution,” Khalifa said. “We consider this a cornerstone for achieving a just and comprehensive peace, leading to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, based on the resolutions of international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative,” he added.
Khalifa thanked the US for its role in the peace initiatives, Saudi Arabia for laying the foundation for peace and security and Egypt for consolidating those steps.
Jordan, Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia also spoke of the importance of a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines when they addressed the UNGA. That vision runs counter to US President Donald Trump’s two-state plan, which recognizes existing Israeli sovereignty over most of Jerusalem and allows for Israel to annex up to 30% of the West Bank.
Those who have embraced the new normalization deals between Israel and two Gulf states, Bahrain and the UAE, also have rejected Trump’s vision of how to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In Amman on Thursday, the foreign ministers of Egypt, France, Germany and Jordan and the EU special representative for the Middle East peace process met to discuss ways to advance a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
“We stress that the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution that ensures the emergence of an independent and viable Palestinian state on the basis of the June 4, 1967, lines, living side by side a secure and recognized Israel, is the path to achieving comprehensive, enduring peace and regional security,” the diplomats said in a joint statement after the meeting.
They called on Israel to halt settlement activity, which they said was a “violation of international law that undermines the viability of the two-state solution,” and called on Israel to ensure that the suspension of annexation “should become permanent.”
In addition, the diplomats stressed “the importance of upholding the legal and historic status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem. We recognize the important role of Jordan and the Hashemite custodianship of the holy sites in this regard.”
Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians should be resumed either directly by the two parties or under UN auspices, they said.
Meanwhile, Israel, the UAE and Bahrain continued to advance their newly established ties. Israeli Ambassador to the EU and NATO Ronny Leshno-Yaar met with his UAE counterpart, Mohamed Issa Hamad Abushahab, and Bahraini Ambassador Bahia Jawad al-Jishi for the first time at a special European Parliament meeting in Brussels in honor of the peace agreements.
The ambassadors were hosted by European Parliament Member Antonio Lopez-Isturiz White of Spain to mark the Abraham Accords between the countries signed in Washington earlier this month. They were given special permission to enter Parliament despite diplomats not being allowed in for the past eight months due to coronavirus.
Leshno-Yaar said the meeting was an important milestone toward regional security and stability. He expressed hope that the EU will take a more active part in strengthening relations between Israel and its new partners in peace.