Bahrain made a significant diplomatic move on Thursday as it expelled the Israeli ambassador to Manama and recalled its own envoy from Tel Aviv. These actions come in the midst of the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza, which has led to the tragic loss of nearly 9,000 Palestinian lives.
In an official statement, Bahrain’s parliament justified these decisions as measures taken in support of “the Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.” The statement affirmed the departure of the Israeli ambassador from Bahrain, the return of the Bahraini ambassador from Israel, and the cessation of economic relations between the two countries.
Regional Repercussions and International Response
This development closely follows Jordan’s similar action against Israel. A day earlier, Jordan’s Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, “immediately” recalled the country’s ambassador to Israel, citing the “unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe” unfolding in Gaza.
Jordan insisted that it would only send back its envoy if Israel halts its military operations and also called for the recall of Israel’s ambassador to Amman. Notably, Israel had already evacuated its embassies in several countries with diplomatic ties, including Bahrain and Morocco.
While Morocco and the United Arab Emirates have not yet followed suit with such actions, Bolivia in Latin America has cut off relations with Israel in response to the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Additionally, Chile and Colombia have recalled their envoys from Tel Aviv, though they have not yet taken further measures.
Public Pressure and Regional Dilemma Over Ties with Israel
Protests in various countries are becoming a common sight as Arab nations that have normalized or considered improving relations with Israel face growing public pressure to reconsider those ties due to Israel’s conflict with Hamas.
In Morocco, tens of thousands have taken to the streets to show their support for the Palestinian cause. Even in Bahrain, where protests are rarely allowed, a surprising public demonstration occurred recently with people marching, waving flags, and gathering in front of the Israeli Embassy in Manama.
These demonstrations reflect a challenging dilemma for governments that have reaped the benefits of enhanced military and economic relations with Israel in recent years. In countries like Egypt, where ties with Israel date back decades, protesters have rallied in various cities and at universities, sometimes chanting slogans against Israel.
Tunisia’s parliamentary committee has also advanced a draft law criminalizing normalization with Israel. In Morocco and Bahrain, beyond the immediate protests, activists are demanding the reversal of agreements that formalized ties with Israel, highlighting the divide between the governments and public sentiment.
The Abraham Accords, brokered by the U.S. and aimed at securing broader recognition of Israel in the Arab world, have facilitated trade deals and military cooperation with countries like Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, and the UAE.
These agreements were initially framed as steps toward a “new Middle East” that fosters peace and prosperity through closer ties. However, the protests and public sentiment in various nations signal a potential shift in the trajectory of these diplomatic relations, raising questions about the future of such agreements.