Salman Al-Dossary
Salman Al-Dossary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

Ties with Israel...Bahrain Knows What's Best for Itself

When the diplomatic relations between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv were announced, Arab and international reactions emerged about this peace agreement, but the striking response came from the Palestinian side, at the official and popular levels.

It was an aggressive and offensive response by the components of the Palestinian state, and undiplomatic by the Palestinian leadership.

What matters to us here is that this angry reaction has confirmed that the UAE was right in its sovereign decision to search for its vision of peace in the Middle East, after its steadfast positions were met with grudge and denial for more than five decades. The same aggressive response is targeting Bahrain this time.

The attackers should know that one cannot go back in time. The feverish attack on the new Bahraini-Israeli peace agreement confirms not just to Bahrain but to the rest of the Gulf people that the support for the cause for long decades has resulted in nothing but aggression, attack, and ingratitude.

It also shows that there is more than one door to peace, not necessarily through the Palestinian Authority, which was the first to establish relations with Israel, and then comes now to consider the move as a stab in the back, only because it does not meets its whims or desires.

When Bahrain faced in 2011 the most dangerous threat in its modern history and the attempts to topple the rule, the real stances emerged. At the time, Iran stood behind that coup attempt, providing both financing and planning, while the leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian components continued to strengthen their relationship with Tehran without any feeling of embarrassment. As Bahrain was always keen to support the Palestinian cause, not a single Palestinian demonstration in support of the Gulf country took place in the face of those who wanted to bring down the government.

Therefore, why would Bahrain be deprived of its right to search for its interests and proceed with its vision of peace in the region according to its perspective? It goes without saying that the relations with Tel Aviv as far as they are not directed against the Palestinians, are a necessity in light of the current circumstances and the countries’ search for peace and stability in the region.

I completely agree with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas when he said: “Neither the UAE nor any other party has the right to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people. The leadership does not allow anyone to interfere in the Palestinian affairs or decide on its behalf about its legitimate rights in its homeland.”

The same statement will be repeated with Bahrain. But why does the Palestinian leadership have the right to speak on behalf of the Emirati or Bahraini people, and prevent them from taking sovereign decisions that are compatible with their interests?!

Certainly, the scenario will be repeated, and the Palestinian Authority will call for a meeting of the Arab League following the establishment of Israeli-Bahraini relations. But this will be considered a baseless invitation because the normalization of relations between the two states remains a sovereign right, and it is a matter that neither the Arab League nor any other organization has the right to interfere with.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority has no option but to accept the regional realities surrounding it, and to deal with them instead of rejecting them, or at least to stop attacking them.

Evidently and as always, the Bahraini flag and pictures of the Bahraini leadership will be burnt. The Bahrainis will be insulted. There is no objection to including the Gulf people with them as well.

Aggression, not rationality, will continue in response to a sovereign decision and an undeniable right. Then, pens will dry up and pages will be turned. This reaction will remain proof that states are late in searching for their desired peace, instead of wasting decades of loyalty to a cause that its components have harmed it more than others did.