Skip to main content

Israel’s Bennett in Bahrain to warn against Iran

During a first, historic visit, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett emphasizes that Israel and Bahrain share similar interests in constructing regional cooperation and in battling against Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett delivers a speech upon his departure to Bahrain, at Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv, Feb. 14, 2022.

On Feb. 14, the day Prime Minister Naftali Bennett left for Manama on the first ever visit by an Israeli leader to Bahrain, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hosted a conference of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cairo. Hours before Bennett landed in Bahrain, a short video clip from the Cairo conference’s opening ceremony went viral on social media. It showed the Egyptian president entering the packed hall to a standing ovation by the government ministers and energy executives from around the Middle East and the Arab world, taking his front-row seat, welcoming the guests and then surprising the audience by leaving his seat to walk across the hall toward a woman seated in a wheelchair. Sisi approached her, bowed, exchanged a few words and placed his hand on his heart to signal his sincerity. The woman was Karine Elharrar, Israel’s minister of national infrastructure, energy and water resources.

The head of Elharrar’s Yesh Atid party, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, recounted later that he had been moved to tears at the rare gesture by an Egyptian president toward an Israeli politician. Over the 43 years of formal peace with Israel, Egyptian leaders have generally downplayed meetings with senior Israeli politicians due to persistent widespread public opposition to these ties. Things have changed since Israel’s new government took office in June 2021. Nowadays, as illustrated by the video clip, not only are the Egyptians no longer hiding their contacts with Israel, they are proudly showcasing them for the world to see.

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.