NEWS

Bahrain FM Heads to Israel for First-ever Ministerial Trip

November 18, 2020

by: Kate Norman

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The Bahraini FM touched down on the first commercial flight from Bahrain to Israel. (illustrative)

Wednesday, 18 November 2020 | Today marks a historic visit as the Bahraini foreign minister, flying aboard the first commercial flight from the Gulf state to Israel, touched down in Ben Gurion airport for his first official visit to the Jewish state after the two countries normalized ties in September.

Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani arrived in Israel for meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli President Reuvin Rivlin. The Bahraini minister was welcomed at the airport by his Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, who greeted al-Zayani and called the meeting a “historic visit.”

Al-Zayani is only on the ground in Israel for 12 hours, but those precious hours are packed with meetings, visits and scheduled joint statements with top Israeli and US officials as Jerusalem and Manama look to advance cooperation between their nations after signing the US-brokered Abraham Accords on the White House lawn on September 15.

“For us, this is a dramatic event,” an unnamed Israeli diplomat told the Times of Israel. “There is great enthusiasm on their part to advance their cooperation with us—in nearly all areas.”

The diplomat, who, according to the Times of Israel, has insight into Israel’s relations with Gulf states, noted the importance of al-Zayani’s visit to the Jewish state and that it “should not be taken for granted.”

“Something like that doesn’t happen every day. There is enormous economic potential in our ties with the UAE and Bahrain,” the diplomat noted. “Many here in the Foreign Ministry have worked on creating these ties for more than 15 years and are now understandably happy that they can finally talk about them openly.

Israel and Bahrain officially signed bilateral agreements on October 25 in the Bahraini capital of Manama. This historic visit by the first Bahraini officials to Israel is the next step in signing and implementing agreements for cooperation between the two states.

The Bahraini foreign minister, who was present at the historic signing ceremony at the White House, is being accompanied to Israel by a US delegation headed by top peace negotiator Avi Berkowitz, who will attend several meetings as well.

The Israeli Knesset (Parliament) officially ratified the peace agreement last week with a vote of 62–14—the only votes against made by the Joint List of Arab parties.

Posted on November 18, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, November 18, 2020)

Photo Credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/flickr.com

Photo License: Flickr