Bahrain became the latest Arab nation to agree to normalize ties with Israel. The move comes as part of a broader diplomatic push by US President Donald Trump and his administration to fully integrate the Jewish state into the Middle East.
Trump announced the agreement on Friday, following a three-way phone call he had with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
"This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East,'' Trump, Netanyahu and King Hamad said in a joint statement. "Opening direct dialogue and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security, and prosperity in the region.''
Trump and Netanyahu both held news conferences providing details on the deal.
The US president lauded the deal's potential for "regional transformation," adding that other countries "want to very much come in." Trump outlined a brighter future for the troubled region.
"The sand was loaded up with blood, now it will be loaded with peace," he said.
In turn, Israel's Netanyahu said he was "moved" by the news of the deal with Bahrain.
"This agreement adds to the historic peace with the United Arab Emirates," Netanyahu said in a statement.
Bahrain will join the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in signing an agreement to normalize relations with Israel next week.
Trump, Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa will take part in a signing ceremony at the White House on Tuesday, according to the US president.
The announcement comes after two weeks of intense lobbying on the part of the Trump Administration, particularly the president's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both of whom personally visited the king and crown prince of Bahrain, urging them to open full diplomatic relations with Israel.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Trump's "policy of peace through strength has changed the world profoundly for the better," adding, "We're seeing the paradigm of the Middle East completely change in a very positive way."
State Department veteran Brian Hook thanked the president, telling him, "I think historians will back on these two peace agreements as the beginning of the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict."
Trump and several of those who spoke in the Oval Office on Friday made note of the fact that establishing peace in the region would allow the US to bring home troops. According to a June 2020 Congressional Research Report, the US had roughly 5,000 service members stationed at its naval support and air bases in Bahrain at the end of 2019. Bahrain is also the home to US Navy Central Command (NAVCENT) and the Navy's Fifth Fleet.