Bahrain warns against challenging US over ‘side issues’

Khalid al-Khalifa says it is unhelpful to ‘pick fights’ over ‘side issues’, which many interpret as Jerusalem reference.

bahrain israel
A screenshot of the tweet by Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid al-Khalifa [Al Jazeera]

Bahrain’s foreign minister has said it is unhelpful to “pick a fight” with the United States over “side issues”, while there is a threat from Iran.

Khalid al-Khalifa tweeted to his 460,000 followers on Wednesday: “It’s not helpful to pick a fight with the USA over side issues while we together fight the clear and present danger of The Theo-Fascist Islamic republic.”

Relations between Bahrain and the Islamic Republic, Iran, are strained over various issues.

Bahrain and Israel, meanwhile, are united in their views on Iran, which they see as a threat to security.

Many of the 672 people who responded to Khalifa’s tweet interpreted the “side issues” he referred to as Washington’s stance on Jerusalem.

On December 6, US President Donald Trump announced that the US recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move its embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The move has drawn international condemnation and sparked a wave of heated protests around the world.

Khalifa’s tweet, which unlike most of his messages on the social media site was posted in English and not Arabic, comes after a Bahrain delegation came under fire for visiting Israel earlier in December, after Trump’s announcement.

Members of the 'This is Bahrain' group during a visit to Israel in December, 2017 [Screen capture: Hadashot TV]
Members of the ‘This is Bahrain’ group during a visit to Israel in December, 2017 [Screen capture: Hadashot TV]

Aside from December’s developments, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in September was at the centre of rumours that Manama had called for normalising relations with Israel.

Israel’s foreign affairs ministry tweeted that Khalifa had denounced an Arab boycott of Israel and confirmed Bahraini citizens were free to visit Israel. Shortly after the tweet was posted, it was deleted.

Critics say countries should refuse to normalise relations with Israel at a time when it is illegally occupying Palestinian land and oppressing the Palestinian people.

Sensitive topic

The status of Jerusalem has long remained a sensitive topic and one of the core issues in the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

Washington’s new stance has broken with decades of US policy.

No country currently has its embassy in Jerusalem.

Trump threatens to cut aid over UN Jerusalem vote

Jerusalem, home to holy religious sites, has particular significance for Muslims, Christians and Jews.

West Jerusalem was seized by Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, when more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from historic Palestine, referred to by Palestinians as the Nakba (catastrophe) when Israel was officially founded.

Israel subsequently occupied and annexed the eastern part of the city after its military victory in the 1967 war, but its control over East Jerusalem has never been recognised by the international community.

Palestinian leaders want occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, while Israel says the city cannot be divided.

On Thursday, the United Nations General Assembly will vote on a draft resolution condemning the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Source: Al Jazeera