JERUSALEM — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday issued a stark warning to Iran as he marked new diplomatic breakthroughs here between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
“These [normalization] agreements . . . tell malign actors like the Islamic Republic of Iran that their influence in the region is waning and that they are ever more isolated, and that this shall forever be until they change their direction,” he said at a press briefing with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visiting Bahraini foreign minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani.
The measures discussed in Jerusalem on Wednesday aim for closer ties between the two countries through direct commercial flights, the exchange of embassies, and E-visas allowing residents of each country to travel to the other as tourists.
Al Zayani’s travel to Israel — a first for a Bahraini government official, on the first-ever direct commercial flight between the two countries — itself marked a significant diplomatic breakthrough.
“The invitation to deliver these remarks at your official residence is a message of trust that is greatly appreciated and well-received,” he told Netanyahu during their statements.
Israel’s steps toward normalization of diplomatic relations with Bahrain, in addition to the United Arab Emirates and Sudan — which will also participate in the Abraham Accords — mark one of the Trump administration’s crowning foreign-policy achievements.
During the event, Netanyahu thanked Pompeo for his friendship, stating, “And I ask you to convey to President Trump my deep appreciation and the appreciation of our grateful nation for all he and his administration has done for the state of Israel and for peace.”
The three government officials took no questions. After their statements, they moved on to a closed-door meeting, where they further discussed the Abraham Accords, normalization between Israel and Bahrain, and the path to peace in the Middle East, according to a State Department summary.
Soon after the press briefing, Pompeo’s office released a statement announcing a new round of sanctions targeting Iranian government entities on the one-year anniversary of the massacre of protesters in the city of Mahshahr. The sanctions target members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Iranian intelligence services, and they designate the Islamic Revolution Mostazafan Foundation under sanctions aimed at the Supreme Leader’s Office.
The latest steps toward normalization between Israel and Arab countries, and the new sanctions, come as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office, promising to reenter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran provided that it returns to compliance with the agreement.