Israelis Welcome Normalization with Bahrain (VIDEO REPORT)
Historic peace agreement inspires optimism on street as Netanyahu heads to signing ceremony in Washington
Historic agreements with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have instilled many Israelis with a sense of optimism about the future of peace in the region.
Bahrain has become the second Arab state to normalize relations with Israel in less than a month, in a move that was mediated by the United States and which comes on the heels of another deal reached with the United Arab Emirates on August 13.
High-ranking officials from both the UAE and Bahrain are slated to attend a signing ceremony in Washington on Tuesday, in addition to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump.
Israelis have welcomed the formal establishment of ties with the two Persian Gulf states – only the third and fourth Arab countries to sign such a deal with the Jewish state since Egypt and Jordan did the same in 1979 and 1994, respectively.
“I think this is a positive thing and I hope that there will be other peace agreements so that we can have a break from all the wars,” Esther, a retiree living in Jerusalem, told The Media Line.
“Enough already!” she added. “Our children have served in the army during all the wars. My husband also served so I want my grandchildren to be able to live well.”
Others perusing the fruit and vegetable stalls at Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market agreed.
“I am from Uzbekistan, which is a Muslim country,” Yosef Maximov said to The Media Line. “We, the Jewish community there, were like brothers to them. We should make peace with Muslims because we are cousins from our forefather Abraham.”
This is good for us as Israelis. We’ll have more security, new technologies and it will help us to defend ourselves against Iran. It’s in our mutual interest to have peace.
Some believe that mutual defense and economic cooperation will be the primary benefits of normalization.
“This is good for us as Israelis,” Yossi, who works at the Mahane Yehuda Market, told The Media Line. “We’ll have more security, new technologies and it will help us to defend ourselves against Iran. It’s in our mutual interest to have peace.”
One Israeli noted that they were especially grateful to the Saudis and the Emiratis for helping the deals move forward.
“The [Bahrainis and Emiratis] want real peace, unlike the Palestinians who want everything that Israel has from A to Z,” Benny, a resident of Jerusalem, asserted to The Media Line. “With this peace deal, there were no preconditions. They approached Netanyahu and said: ‘We want peace.’ Netanyahu heard them and the rest is history.”
Despite this sense of optimism, others told The Media Line that they were preoccupied with more pressing issues, namely a looming national lockdown that is set to take effect on Friday ahead of the Jewish High Holy Days. The number of COVID-19 cases across the country has skyrocketed in recent weeks – reaching more than 4,000 new infections daily – as the government struggles to contain the spread of the virus.
The lockdown, which is expected to last at least until October 9, will cost the Israeli economy billions of dollars.
“I haven’t thought about traveling [to Bahrain],” said Shaul Naim, who was in the midst of shopping for groceries for the holidays. “At the moment, we’re more concerned about other things but when the time comes, we Israelis will visit.”