CAIRO – Reaction from around the Middle East to the Israel-Bahrain peace agreement has been mixed, though most criticism of the deal has been fairly muted.
Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV broadcast a video of some Bahrainis saying they opposed the peace deal between their country and Israel. It was not clear, however, if those Bahrainis were opponents of their government or if their opinion was that of the majority.
Qatar’s ruling al-Thani family has been at loggerheads with its Bahraini rivals for many years amid historically troubled relations between the nations.
The UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Garghash, said in a tweet that “recent developments in the region are a clear sign of the need to discard old policies that have not borne fruit.”
“New beginnings carry real opportunities,” he added, “that may pave the way for political solutions that improve security, stability and prosperity.”
In Egypt, which in 1979 became the first country to sign a peace deal with Israel, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi indicated in a tweet that he “values this important step towards establishing peace and stability in the Middle East, in a way that achieves a just and permanent settlement to the Palestinian issue.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday that Bahrain was now a partner to what it called the “crimes of Israel,” which it added were “a constant threat to the security of the region and the Islamic world.”
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently blasted the UAE, which signed its own peace deal with Israel several weeks ago, saying it had “betrayed” the Muslim world.
A number of Algerian political parties and civil society groups condemned the agreement, calling it a “betrayal” of the Palestinian cause.
Palestinian factions also condemned the accord, with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat saying on Al-Jazeera that Bahrain’s King Hamid had “insisted just a week ago that he would not sign a peace deal with Israel.”
Rival Palestinian Islamist factions in Gaza said the deal amounted to “treason,” and they called on the Palestinian Authority to withdraw its ambassador from the Cairo-based Arab League.
Said Sadek, a professor of political sociology in Cairo, told VOA the Arab public no longer shows the same emotional attachment to the Palestinian issue as it once did.
“Many Arabs,” he said, “feel that the Palestinians are refusing to sign a peace deal with Israel because it is more profitable for them to take subsidies from the Arab world than to make peace. Arabs today are more concerned about their own interests than those of the Palestinians,” who Sadek said are often viewed in a negative light.