Manama Dialogue: Bahrain sees Abraham Accord as 'game changer' for regional security

The UAE and Bahrain this year became the first Arab states to normalise ties with Israel in a quarter of a century

Bahraini Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, attends the opening session of the Manama Dialogue security conference in the Bahraini capital, on December 4, 2020.  / AFP / Mazen Mahdi

The Abraham Accord has far-reaching implications for regional stability, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani said on Saturday.

Under the accord brokered by US President Donald Trump, the UAE agreed in August to become the first Arab state to normalise ties with Israel in more than two decades. It was followed by Bahrain, with both countries formally establishing diplomatic relations with Israel in September.

The accord has "potentially game-changing implications [in the region], it is essential to not lose the momentum we have to build and overcome obstacles,” Mr Al Zayani said during the annual Manama Dialogue security conference, organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“We need our friends and allies to continue their strong support, to protect and advance peace and stability in the region,” he said.

The accord has resulted in Israel suspending the planned annexation of Palestinian territory and the opening of business, travel and security co-operation between the three states.

Mr Al Zayani said Bahrain’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue was clear: “we are with the two-state solution envisioned in the Arab peace initiative”.

“We call on both parties to go to the negotiation table together and stand to help," he said.

The Bahraini foreign minister said for many decades the world had considered the Middle East “as a problem area”.

“We urgently need to change that perception, and demonstrate how we are committed to interdependence and shared aspirations,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, said Riyadh's focus was on getting the Palestinians and Israelis to the negotiating table to deliver “a Palestinian state and establish true peace in the region”.

Saudi Arabia is “completely open to fully normalising relations with Israel" on the condition that the Palestinians get their own state, Prince Faisal told the opening session on Saturday.

Speaking before his Bahraini counterpart during the session on regional security and conflict resolution, Oman's Foreign Minister Sayyed Badr Al Busaidi said his country favoured an inclusive approach to resolving disputes.

“The better we get to know each other day to day, the easier it will be to work together to advance multilateral efforts,” Mr Al Busaidi said.

Oman has a general commitment to resolving disputes peacefully and maintaining participation, he said.

"There are no limits in our diplomatic field.”

Germany’s Secretary of State Miguel Berger said Berlin supported the accord and the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the various sides.

“We hope that it can spark a renewed effort to arrive at a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians,” Mr Berger said.