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Bahrain’s Crown Prince Accepts Invitation to Israel During Naftali Bennett’s Landmark Visit
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with Bahrain’s prime minister, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, in Manama on February 15, 2022. (Haim Zach / GPO)

Bahrain’s Crown Prince Accepts Invitation to Israel During Naftali Bennett’s Landmark Visit

First official visit by an Israeli prime minister to Bahrain is “fruitful and successful,” King Hamad says

[Manama] In Bahrain for the first official visit of an Israeli prime minister to the island kingdom, Naftali Bennett invited Bahrain’s prime minister, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, to make a reciprocal visit to Israel, the Bahraini Foreign Affairs Ministry announced. The crown prince accepted the invitation, according to the ministry.

Bennett was in Bahrain on Tuesday at the invitation of the crown prince made late last year. It is the most senior meetings between the two countries since the signing in September 2020 of the US-brokered Abraham Accords.

Bennett was in Bahrain on Tuesday at the invitation of the crown prince made late last year. It is the most senior meetings between the two countries since the signing in September 2020 of the US-brokered Abraham Accords. In addition to meeting with Crown Prince Salman, Bennett met with Bahrain’s King, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

During Bennett’s visit on Tuesday, representatives from Bahrain’s health sector and from the medical and health education sector in the kingdom, met with officials from the Maccabi Research and Innovation Center, which includes a database of 2.5 million members of the Maccabi Heath Fund with 30 years of data collection. The two sides agreed “to enhance cooperation frameworks in medical research and big data research and to consolidate cooperation between the two sides in the field of joint medical publications,” according to Bahrain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

An agreement also was signed between Bahrain’s National Contact Center and the i24News network in Israel, according to the ministry.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, meet at the king’s private palace in Manama on February 15, 2022. (Haim Zach / GPO)

“Your Majesty, it is a great honor to visit your wonderful people in the Kingdom of Bahrain. I admire your courage and determination to build your country. I think we discussed many ways to build new bridges and structures for a stronger and more sustainable relationship. I look forward to continuing this wonderful relationship between us. In Hebrew they say ‘with the help of God,’ and in Arabic they say ‘Insha’allah’ (God willing),” Bennett said after the meeting in Manama with King Hamad, at his private palace, according to a statement from his office.

“This is a historic day to host the Prime Minister of Israel here in Bahrain. Due to his determination and leadership, it was a fruitful and successful visit toward an integrated joint effort for the benefit of the two peoples. Thank you for coming here,” King Hamad said, according to the statement.

“The kingdom’s vision and approach are based on firm principles of good neighborliness and mutual respect and the promotion of the values of understanding, dialogue, cooperation, peaceful coexistence, tolerance and rapprochement among peoples and the whole world,” the Bahraini king also said.

The two leaders reportedly discussed the Iranian nuclear issue and terrorism, according to Bahrain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

“Today’s meetings between the Prime Minister of Israel and the leaders of Bahrain have contributed to strengthening relations between both states and their governments. They have also presented an opportunity to enhance cooperation between the peoples of both nations in social, economic and security matters,” according to a joint statement issued by the governments of Israel and Bahrain.

“The leaders discussed expanding strategic and security relations to address regional challenges, including nuclear threats, terrorist activity, religious extremism, poverty, and social challenges. Additionally, the leaders extensively discussed how civilian, economic, business, and trade cooperation between the two countries can be strengthened to secure peace and create prosperity which benefits both peoples,” the statement also said.

During the official talks between Bennett and Crown Prince Salman, the leaders “reviewed topics of common interest and the most important issues in the regional and international arenas, as well as ways to enhance cooperation between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Israel at all levels,” according to the Bahrain News Agency (BNA).

“Bahrain is keen to cooperate with brotherly and friendly countries to consolidate the foundations of peace and stability in the region to continue achieving the desired development aspirations for the countries and citizens of the region, and we are always based on establishing the values of understanding, dialogue, tolerance and peaceful coexistence. We care about and we support all international efforts to promote stability and sustainable development in the region and the world,” the prince said, according to BNA.

Bennett also visited the kingdom’s Economic Development Board, and was briefed on Bahrain’s future economic plans and areas of investment available in Bahrain.

An informed Bahraini source told The Media Line that this week’s visit is meant to “strengthen the bonds of the relationship between Bahrain and Israel, and some issues related to the Iranian file were discussed in particular, and it seems that everyone is in agreement about the need to stop Iranian threats, and that there should not be a return to the previous nuclear agreement.”

Bahraini political analyst Saad Khaled told The Media Line that the importance of this visit lies in strengthening the bonds of friendship between the two countries, especially since the signing of the normalization agreement came during a tense period in the coronavirus pandemic and, therefore, many official visits between the two countries, which should have taken place previously, were delayed.

“The results of this official visit, which was preceded by the visit of the Israeli defense minister, confirm that the two countries are on the same line in maintaining security in the region, and that the goal of the two countries is peace,” he said.

“Bahrain and Israel agree on the Iranian nuclear file. It seems that the US administration is far from what the countries of the Middle East want, while Iran is racing against time to obtain a nuclear bomb, which the countries of the region reject completely: Israel, Bahrain, and all the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council,” Khaled added.

He stressed that: “There can be no peace in the region without stopping Iran’s activities and its support for terrorist groups.”

The visit of the Israeli prime minister is very important, it comes at a sensitive time, and we cannot overlook what is happening in the world. There are many agreements that have been signed between the two countries, and this visit comes to crown these agreements and to emphasize that peace agreements are not ink on paper.

Bahraini security expert Badr Hamaad told The Media Line that “the Bahraini-Emirati-Israeli peace agreements will change the face of the region. This is what I said earlier, and now we see that the relationship between the two countries has become stronger.”

“The visit of the Israeli prime minister is very important, it comes at a sensitive time, and we cannot overlook what is happening in the world. There are many agreements that have been signed between the two countries, and this visit comes to crown these agreements and to emphasize that peace agreements are not ink on paper,” he also said.

Bahraini political affairs expert Achmad Khalid told The Media Line: “The atmosphere between the two parties was very positive, as is evident in the photos and videos that were broadcast, and therefore this confirms that the peace agreements are going in the right direction.”

“There are great opportunities for cooperation between the two parties, and there are several areas in which cooperation can take place, whether economic, political or security,” he also said.

“Bahrain and Israel, and all the countries of the region, are now looking to maintain security and stability, especially in this tense world, and everyone is looking at how to stop Iran’s nuclear and disturbing activities in the region, which threaten security and stability, and therefore this increases opportunities for cooperation between the two parties.” Khalid added.

Ahmed Mutawa, a Bahraini businessman and member of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told The Media Line that he expects there to be a “commercial boom between the two countries, and we expect trade to reach $100 million in the coming years.”

He stressed that “the visit of the Israeli prime minister to Bahrain, and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa’s acceptance of the invitation to visit Israel will open broader horizons between the two countries.”

Mutawa continued: “From our side in the Bahrain Chamber, we will seek to enhance commercial cooperation with Israel, and there will certainly be cooperation in many fields, the most important of which are artificial intelligence, medical fields, agricultural-related products and technologies.”

“There will be cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce in Israel, and there will also be cooperation in the fields of medicine and communications, especially since we are at the end of the pandemic, and it is very useful for economic cooperation between the two countries,” Ahmed added.

 

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