MANAMA, BAHRAIN — After a week of reporting from the United Arab Emirates, I am now reporting from the Kingdom of Bahrain all this week.
And while it’s getting very little attention in the international media, I can tell you the big story here is that one new dramatic peace deal after another is being forged in the Middle East and North Africa.
Call them Hanukkah miracles. Call them Merry Christmas presents. They certainly bring joy to many in this region.
Everyone I am interviewing in the region is excited and astonished by how rapidly peace with Israel is breaking out — and we expect more Arab and Muslim countries to make peace soon, possibly with Oman and even Indonesia.
To put these historic events in context, I did an exclusive interview with the UAE foreign minister at his home in Dubai. He gave us so much material, we ran three stories.
* Part one: UAE wants more than trade with Israel, it wants to create new model of 'peace, prosperity, stability' for a 'New Middle East,' says UAE foreign minister
* Part two: UAE foreign minister to ALL ISRAEL NEWS: 'Erdogan is the most important Turkish leader in 100 years,' but dangerous
* Part three: UAE foreign minister urges Biden only to accept new deal with Iran if it firmly curbs Tehran’s bid for the bomb, terrorism, missiles
And here are some of the other key stories we have published in just the last few days.
* Seven direct flights a day are going back and forth from Israel to the UAE and more than 15,000 Israeli tourists are expected to flock to the UAE in December alone.
* An Emirati businessman just purchased a 50% stake in an Israeli soccer team.
* A delegation of Israeli mayors — both Jews and Arabs — just visited the UAE.
* More than 400 Israeli business leaders and venture capitalists attended a major high tech and investment conference in Dubai.
* Israeli President Rivlin just called the King of Bahrain and plans are being finalized for Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu to make their first state visits to the UAE and Bahrain soon.
* This week, the Buddhist country — the Kingdom of Bhutan — established relations with Israel for the first time.
Meanwhile, Hanukkah is being celebrated in Israel under various COVID restrictions, but it’s possible that Christmas will be canceled.
The cabinet has said it will impose a third lockdown if the daily infection count reaches 2,500. It is now at almost 2,300. This would be a very sad blow to followers of Jesus in the Holy Land who already had to forgo Easter this year.
NEW BUDGET, OR NEW ELECTIONS?
Israel’s parliament has a Dec. 23 deadline to pass a new budget, or new elections will automatically be triggered, likely set in March 2021.
Netanyahu and his Likud Party are struggling in the polls. And now one of the most popular leaders in Likud has dropped a political bombshell — announcing that he is so frustrated with Netanyahu that he is leaving Likud and setting up his own political party to run against Bibi.
Will that persuade Netanyahu to cut a budget deal and forestall new elections — or roll the dice and test his fate?
Stay tuned — these are the big stories we’re tracking this week.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.