Skip to main content

Bahrain goes public with shifting stance on Israel

The statement by Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa condemning the Arab boycott on Israel publicly exposes the state’s change of attitude toward Israel and the ongoing contact between the two countries.
Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (R) speaks to British Prime Minister Theresa May (L) during the first Gulf Cooporative Council's (GCC) " GCC British Summit", in Sakhir Palace Bahrain, December 7, 2016. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed - RC1FD09BAAF0

Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa denounces the Arab boycott of Israel and allows the subjects of his kingdom in the Gulf to visit Israel freely. This appeared in a declaration that was revealed Sept. 15 during a multinational event at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. The king’s surprising declaration, including a harsh denouncement of terror, was published by The Jerusalem Post Sept. 17.

The king’s pronouncements were revealed at the event by American Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, who head the Simon Wiesenthal Center. They received the statements from the king himself during a visit they made to Bahrain at the beginning of the year, and they had received permission to make the declaration public at this time. (Bahrain does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.) The king told them that he plans to establish a museum of religious tolerance by the end of the year. Hier and Cooper spoke enthusiastically about their visit to Manama, the capital of Bahrain, and the prayer houses they saw that represent the major religions: a church with a large cross on top, a Hindu temple next door, a small mosque in the same area and an ancient synagogue, too.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.