Abbas and many Palestinian officials and factions had strongly condemned the rulers of Bahrain and the UAE for reaching the peace deals with Israel.
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
December 2, 2020
A recent phone call from King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas came as a pleasant surprise to Palestinian officials in Ramallah, who say it is a sign of a thaw in their relations with the Gulf state.
The Bahraini monarch called Abbas to offer his condolences over the death of PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat, who died last month at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Abbas, for his part, offered his condolences to the Bahraini king over the death of Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s long-serving prime minister, who also died last month at the age of 84.This was their first phone conversation since the announcement that Bahrain had established relations with Israel following that of the United Arab Emirates, the first Gulf state to normalize its relations with the Jewish state.
Abbas and many Palestinian officials and factions strongly condemned the rulers of Bahrain and the UAE for normalizing relations with Israel, accusing the two Gulf states of betraying the Palestinians and stabbing them in the back. In addition, Abbas withdrew Palestinian ambassadors from Abu Dhabi and Bahrain’s capital, Manama.
Recently, however, Abbas has sought to restore his relations with the two countries. He quietly returned the two envoys and ordered Palestinian officials to cease criticizing Arab states that normalize their relations with Israel. He has asked Egypt and Jordan, the first two Arab states to end their state of war with Israel, to help ease tensions between the Palestinians and the Gulf states.
Abbas has also banned public protests against the UAE and Bahrain. A number of Palestinians who posted derogatory comments about the rulers of the two countries were either arrested or summoned for interrogation by Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.