We need ‘unified voice’ with Israel on Iran: UAE, Bahrain

TEL AVIV (Agencies): The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain called on Tuesday for a coordinated effort with Israel to press the new US administration on Iran.

Speaking alongside Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashed Alzayani stres-sed the concern the countries share over Tehran’s nuclear program, ballistic missiles, and activities across the Middle East.

“A joint regional position on these issues will exert greater influence on the US,” Alzayani said.

The Bahraini and Israeli foreign ministers and Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs spoke on the first day of the Institute for National Security Studies’s 14th annual international conference, which is being held virtually this year bec-ause of COVID-19 restrictions. The panel was moderated by INSS Director General (ret.) Amos Yadlin.

Alzayani suggested that the terms of the deal must be changed in light of the signing of the 2020 Abraham Accords, the US-brokered agreements which normalized ties between Israel and the UAE, Bahra-in, Morocco and Sudan.

“Any future agreement with Iran will need to reflect the new reality in the region and be acceptable to all states in the region.”

Ashkenazi, a former IDF chief of staff, agreed that the accords “strengthened the regional voice” and stressed the importance of maintaining a credible military option in Israel’s policy toward Iran. The Gulf ministers also discussed their support for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

They argued that the Abraham Accords would spur progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace. The pact “created an incentive for such progress and put the brakes on steps that would have reversed the process,” said Alzayani.

In exchange for official ties with the UAE, Israel agreed to suspend plans to annex large parts of the West Bank under the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan drawn up by the Trump administration. The move opened a rift between Abu Dhabi and Ramallah, which saw normalization with Israel as premature given the lack of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, though the UAE says it is still committed to the Palestinian cause.

“After 40-50 years we arrived at the conclusion that disengagement from Israel was not effective, but rather we could more effectively respond to our disagreements with her through dialogue, interaction, trust, and compromise,” Gargash explained.

The diplomats laid out their visions for the next stage in the normalization process between Israel and its new Gulf partners. Gargash stressed the importance of providing “meaning to the peace for the average citizen – freedom of movement and more opportunities,” adding that the UAE was eager to welcome more Israeli tourists.

Israeli envoy reopens Morocco liaison office after 20 years: Israel’s chargé d’affaires to Moroc-co arrived in the capital city of Rabat on Tuesday, 20 years after Israel closed its liaison office in the North African country.

Dr. David Govrin, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Egypt from 2016 to 2020, will build up Israel’s diplomatic mission in the country, expanding bilateral political, tourism, economic, and cultural ties.

Morocco became the third Arab state in 2020 to normalize ties with Israel under US-brokered deals, joining the UAE and Bahrain. In return, then-US president Trump fulfilled a decades-old goal of Moro-cco by backing its contested sovereignty in Western Sahara, what Rabat refers to as its “southern provinces.”