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Bahrain says committed to two-state solution during Pompeo meeting

Manama, however, was among the first countries in the world to welcome the UAE-Israel normalisation deal without reservations
Palestinians in Gaza City protest against the United Arab Emirates deal with Israel, 19 August 2020 (AFP)

Bahrain said Wednesday it was committed to the creation of a Palestinian state in talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, despite his push for Arab countries to swiftly normalise ties with Israel.

After his trip to Manama, Pompeo arrived in the United Arab Emirates in the final leg of his Middle East tour that also included Israel, Sudan and Bahrain. 

Pompeo kicked off his tour in Israel on Sunday in the wake of a US-sponsored normalisation deal between Tel Aviv and the UAE, announced on 13 August. 

The deal has been denounced by Palestinians from across the political spectrum, who dismissed it as tantamount to "treason" and "a stab in the back". 

On Wednesday, Pompeo met with the Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa as well as the king, and discussed “the importance of building regional peace and stability, including the importance of Gulf unity and countering Iran's malign influence in the region,” according to a statement he posted on Twitter.

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Following Pompeo's departure, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa was quoted as saying that he told the secretary of state that his country remains committed to the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for Israel's complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied after 1967, in exchange for peace and the full normalisation of relations.

"The king stressed the importance of intensifying efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict according to the two-state solution...to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital," the official Bahraini news agency reported. 

Israel and the US have said they are pushing more Arab countries to follow the UAE's path. Israel's intelligence minister has mentioned Bahrain as a possible candidate.

Bahrain was among the first countries in the world to welcome the UAE deal without reservations.

Along with Oman, Bahrain is predicted by Israel to follow in the Emirati footsteps

Bahrain and Israel view Iran as a common enemy, as Manama accused Tehran of being behind the popular protests by the country's Shia Muslim majority against the Sunni royals. 

It remains unclear whether Bahrain will declare a position on normalisation without a green light from its Gulf ally, Saudi Arabia, which has yet to declare its stance on the UAE deal. 

Senior Emirati diplomat Anwar Gargash last week said the UAE did not consult with its allies before the deal was made public by the White House.

Middle East Eye has learned that the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, pulled out of a planned visit to Washington DC next week to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he feared that the news had leaked and that his presence in the US capital would become a "nightmare".

But those pushing for it to happen, including US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, see the prospect of a handshake between the men as a way to relaunch bin Salman's image as a young Arab peacemaker and shore up regional support for the US-brokered deal.