Tag: Israel/Bahrain

Bennett’s first visit to Bahrain feels perfectly normal

The Israeli prime minister visits Bahrain: It almost feels routine, without any major headlines,  argues Haaretz.

Prime minister Naftali Bennett meeting Bahraini ministers and officials

MANAMA – The most remarkable thing about Naftali Bennett’s short visit to Bahrain, the first-ever official visit by an Israeli prime minister to this small kingdom on the Persian Gulf, is how normal something that was unthinkable just a few years ago now seems.

The military guard of honor is immaculate, but there isn’t much fanfare. The security is adequate, but it’s not a major operation. The historic first visit feels perfectly normal. An Israeli leader took a short flight to an Arab country. Spent 24 hours there meeting the local leadership. Then he flew back. Almost a banal visit without any major headlines. Could it really be as simple as it sounds?

It has taken over four decades since Israel’s first peace agreement with an Arab country for its relations with some Arab countries to reach this level of normalcy. Relations with that first pioneer, Egypt, are still far from simple. Despite the rather touching sight of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi personally greeting Israeli Energy Minister Karine Elharrar at a conference this week, most of the engagement between the two countries remains between their militaries.

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Israel inaugurates Bahrain embassy

Israel and Bahrain marked a watershed moment in their relationship, as Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrived in the Gulf state to inaugurate Israel’s embassy. The BBC carries this story and The Times of Israel reports:

MANAMA, Bahrain — Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday officially opened Israel’s embassy in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, a year after the two countries agreed to normalize diplomatic relations.

“May our people live in peace and prosperity forever,” Lapid said during the inauguration.

He added in Hebrew: “Israel made a major, historic step today in the Gulf.”

A momentous sight: first commerical flight between Israel and Bahrain

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Israeli foreign minister inaugurates UAE embassy

Pursuant to the Abraham Accords, Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapd formally opened Israel’s new UAE embassy. Bahrain’s ambassador arrived in Tel Aviv and Morocco unveiled its new building in the city.

Yair Lapid meets the minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi

The Guardian reports:
Israel’s foreign minister has inaugurated the country’s new embassy in Abu Dhabi in the first official Israeli visit to the United Arab Emirates since the two countries normalised relations last year.

Speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Yair Lapid appeared to reach out to other regional adversaries.

“Israel wants peace with its neighbours – with all its neighbours. We aren’t going anywhere. The Middle East is our home … We call on all the countries of the region to recognise that, and to come talk to us,” he said, according to a transcript released by the Israeli foreign ministry.

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Bahrain’s new ambassador to Israel is Khaled al-Jalahmah (Middle East Eye). See report.


Morocco’s new liaison office in Tel Aviv (Photo: Zamane – with thanks Michelle)

Gulf-Israel partnership founded to build social bonds

With thanks: Henry

 One of the most promising initatives to come out of the Abraham Accords has been the founding of Sharaka, the Gulf-Israel Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.

Sharaka is Arabic for ‘partnership’. Their self-declared mission is ‘to build bonds between young Israeli and Gulf leaders in order to strengthen peace, trust and cooperation between our societies’. 

The Israelis in the Sharaka team include members with roots in Arab countries, such as Amit Deri, Ben-Dror Yemini and Ofir Ohayon. In December Sharaka organised a group visit of young Arabs to Israel.

This video  shows members of the delegation wiping away tears while being shown around the Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem.



Majid Al-Sarrah from the UAE encouraged all people to “see the reality of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem and promised, “We will spread the knowledge about the Holocaust. We will raise peace and love, say never again to anti-Semitism, hate and discrimination. We are brothers and sisters. We will stand together, and together, we will build a world free of anti-Semitism and hate.” 

 Mashael Al-Shemeri from Bahrain said, “I would like to say to all Jews and the people of Israel: You are not alone anymore.”

Najat Al-Saeed from Saudi Arabia added, “We must educate young generations about the full horrors of the Holocaust, including by ensuring that the Holocaust is taught in schools in the Abraham Accords countries and that special envoys are appointed for preserving Holocaust remembrance.”

Shoah survivor tells her story to Arab audience 

Bahrain ministers visit Israel

Update:Arab news reports falsely stated that al-Zayani’s sit-down with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Tel Aviv, when it took place in Jerusalem. (Times of Israel –with thanks: Edna)

Two Bahraini ministers will today head the first official delegation from the Gulf kingdom to Israel. 

The Times of Israel reports (via HonestReporting): 

Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani delivers a statement upon the arrival of a US-Israeli delegation in the Bahrain International Airport on October 18, 2020. (RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP)

During the visit, a trilateral meeting is slated to be held between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al- Zayani.

Israeli officials are reportedly working to finalize an aviation agreement for direct flights between Tel Aviv and Manama so it can be signed at the meeting, and are also expected to discuss opening embassies and exchanging ambassadors.

 Earlier this week, the Israeli cabinet voted unanimously to ratify the “Joint Communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic, peaceful, and friendly relations” with the Kingdom of Bahrain, concluding a formal process that began roughly two months ago.

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