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President Herzog Makes Historic Visit to Gulf States

December 6, 2022

by: Kate Norman

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Skyline with roads, towers and harbor of Manama, Bahrain

Tuesday, 6 December 2022 | Israeli President Isaac Herzog wrapped up a historic visit to Bahrain on Sunday morning, being the first Israeli head of state to visit the Gulf state, before moving on to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday and returning home to Israel.

Herzog’s visit to the Bahraini capital of Manama included a meeting with the Bahraini king and state officials, meetings with leaders of the local Jewish community and a visit to the nation’s Economic Board of Development.

Bahrain joined the UAE in signing the historic Abraham Accords in September 2020, in which the two Arab Gulf states normalized ties with the Jewish state.

“Bahrain has a special place in our hearts, as an original signatory of the Abraham Accords,” Herzog wrote in the Times of Israel on Sunday. “Its courageous decision two years ago, together with our friends in the UAE, to embrace a warm peace with Israel has already transformed our region.”

President Herzog and his wife arrived in Bahrain on Sunday and were welcomed by Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani and Bahraini envoy to Israel Khaled Yousif Al-Jalahma.

After meeting with Al-Zayani, Herzog and his entourage moved on to Al-Qudaibiya Palace, arriving to a red-carpet welcome by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

At the welcoming ceremony, a military band played Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah (the Hope),” followed by the Bahraini anthem. Meanwhile, the Israeli flag bearing the Star of David waved on a flagpole alongside the flag of Bahrain.

King Hamad welcomed Herzog in a speech. The king did, however, reiterate his nation’s “firm position in support of achieving a just, comprehensive and sustainable peace that guarantees the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and that will lead to stability, development and prosperity for both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, as well as all peoples of the region.”

Herzog opened his speech in Arabic, thanking the king, “my friend,” for hosting him.

Afterwards, Herzog and the king retired for a private meeting, where they discussed the two states’ bilateral relations. According to Herzog’s office, the president also presented the king with a silver mezuzah (Scripture box affixed to a doorway).

The Israeli president then went to visit with members of the local Jewish community, which totals about 30 people, according to a 2011 census, and dates back to the end of the 19th century, the Times of Israel reported. The group presented President Herzog with a prayer book, including a translation into Arabic, a book about the local Jewish community’s history and a copy of the permit issued in 1931 to open the synagogue, the Times of Israel reported.

Later on Sunday, Herzog and his delegation, which included Israeli business and economic leaders, went to visit the Bahrain Economic Board of Development.

“The free trade agreement that we hope to conclude in the foreseeable future will unleash an outburst of trade,” Herzog wrote in the Times of Israel, “as Israelis discover Manama as their gateway to the Gulf, and as Bahrainis discover more opportunities for business with Israel’s dynamic, innovative economy.”

“Israel envisions a future of student exchanges,” Herzog added, “of joint projects between youth, of collaborative ventures between universities—not only between Israel and Bahrain, but with our broader region.”

After wrapping up his visit in Bahrain, Herzog departed Monday morning and continued on to the UAE. The president met with top Emirati officials, including the UAE foreign minister and the ruler of Abu Dhabi. This was Herzog’s second visit to the kingdom in his capacity as president, after visiting earlier this year for the Expo 2020 Dubai.

After attending the Abu Dhabi Space Debate to discuss policies on space exploration, the Israeli president and his delegation returned home to the Jewish state.

Posted on December 6, 2022

Source: (Bridges for Peace, December 6, 2022)

Photo Credit: Jason De Leon/en.wikipedia.org

Photo License: Wikipedia.org

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