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PEACE DEAL

Knesset approves deal establishing ties with Bahrain

The flags of Israel and Bahrain flutter along a road in Netanya, Israel September 14, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Nir Elias)

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's parliament on Tuesday approved a U.S.-brokered deal establishing formal relations with Bahrain, by a vote of 62 lawmakers in favor and 14 opposed.

The Middle East countries signed a joint communique on Oct. 18 to formalize their nascent ties. Bahrain is one of three Arab countries - along with the United Arab Emirates and Sudan - to set aside hostilities with Israel in recent months.

Israel's deals with Gulf Arab states Bahrain and the UAE were forged in part over shared fears of Iran. But they angered the Palestinians, who have long demanded statehood before any such regional rapprochement.

"The Knesset (parliament) plenum approved the joint announcement regarding the establishment of diplomatic relations, peace and friendship between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain," a Knesset spokesman said in a statement.

Speaking at parliament ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu predicted more regional countries would move to open relations with Israel.

"(The) buds of normalization are already out there, waiting to blossom. If we pursue the policy I crafted, I am convinced that the flowering will be witnessed in the open," Netanyahu said.

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