Bahrain said Wednesday it was committed to the creation of a Palestinian state in talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, implicitly rejecting his push for Arab countries to swiftly normalise ties with Israel. Pompeo was in Manama as part of a Middle East trip aimed at forging more links between Israel and the Arab world after a landmark US-brokered deal with the United Arab Emirates. The US chief diplomat has said he is hopeful other nations will follow the UAE, which earlier this month became only the third Arab country to agree to establish relations with the Jewish state.“Hopeful we will build on this momentum towards regional peace,” Pompeo tweeted as he landed in Abu Dhabi, the latest stop on the tour which has taken in Israel, Sudan and Bahrain. However, Sudan’s transitional government on Tuesday dashed hopes for a speedy breakthrough, saying it has “no mandate” to take such a weighty step.And Bahrain echoed the sentiments of its ally, regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia, that an accord with Israel would not materialise without the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa said he told Pompeo that his country remains committed to the Arab Peace Initiative — which calls for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the Palestinian territories occupied after 1967, in exchange for peace and the full normalisation of relations.“The king stressed the importance of intensifying efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict according to the two-state solution… to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” the official Bahrain News Agency reported. Pompeo said in a tweet only that he discussed with Bahrain’s royal rulers the “importance of building regional peace and stability” and “countering Iran’s malign influence”.Manama, whose contacts with Israel date back to the 1990s, was the first Gulf country to welcome the UAE rapprochement and was considered a front-runner to follow in its footsteps.Like most Gulf countries, Bahrain shares with the Jewish state a common enemy in Iran, which Manama accuses of instigating protests by the nation’s Shiite Muslim community against the ruling Sunni Al-Khalifa dynasty.But the UAE’s controversial step has been met with criticism from some parts of the Arab world, with the Palestinian leadership condemning it as a “stab in the back”, and even US allies in the region have been cautious in their response.Eyes on SaudiSaudi Arabia, while not condemning the UAE-Israel deal, has refused to normalise ties until Israel signs an internationally recognised peace accord with the Palestinians. Not only would a formal recognition of Israel be seen by Palestinians and their supporters as a betrayal of their cause, it could also hurt the kingdom’s image as the leader of the Islamic world.Other Gulf states including Oman, Qatar and Kuwait also face barriers to warming ties with Israel, said Cinzia Bianco, a research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.She said that in these countries “popular opposition towards normalisation is still quite high,” despite colder sentiment towards the Palestinian cause among some quarters of the youth, especially in Saudi Arabia.While in the UAE, Pompeo will hold talks with Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.“Excited to arrive in the United Arab Emirates and congratulate the Emirati people on the historic Abraham Accords — the most significant step toward peace in the Middle East in over 25 years,” he tweeted on Wednesday.On Tuesday, he spoke by phone with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, who is seen as the driving force behind the Israel agreement.The two discussed the historic deal “and the prospects for strengthening it in a way that serves the foundations of peace and stability in the region”, the official Emirati news agency WAM said.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied reports that the UAE deal hinges on the sale of US F-35 stealth fighter-jets to the Emirates, saying he opposes a move that could reduce Israel’s strategic edge in the region.