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Bahrain, UAE sign accords with Israel; Iran warns of consequences

WASHINGTON: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain signed agreements on Tuesday to establish formal ties with Israel, becoming the first Arab states in a quarter century to break a long-standing taboo, in a strategic realignment of Middle East countries against Iran.

US President Donald Trump hosted the White House ceremony, capping a dramatic month when first the UAE and then Bahrain agreed to reverse decades of ill will without a resolution of Israel's dispute with the Palestinians.

On the White House lawn, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed accords with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al-Zayani.

The deals, denounced by the Palestinians, make them the third and fourth Arab states to take such steps toward normalising relations since Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

Mr Trump said: "We'll have at least five or six countries coming along very quickly" to forge their own accords with Israel.

Later, he said Saudi Arabia would strike an agreement with Israel "at the right time".

The Saudi Cabinet stressed the need for a "just and comprehensive solution" to the Palestinian issue. Saudi Arabia is the biggest Gulf Arab power.

Despite its reluctance, the kingdom's quiet acquiescence to the agreements was seen as crucial.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday the UAE and Bahrain will be responsible for consequences from their normalisation of relations with Teheran's arch-foe Israel. He said Israel is "committing more crimes in Palestine every day".

"Some of the region's countries, their people are pious Muslims but their rulers neither understand religion nor (their) debt... to the nation of Palestine, to their brothers speaking their language," he said in televised remarks.

"How could you reach out your hands to Israel? And then you want to give them bases in the region? All the severe consequences that would arise from this are on you." - REUTERS, AFP

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