Bahrain FM to visit Israel on Wednesday, meet with Netanyahu, Pompeo

Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani will visit Israel on Wednesday for a trilateral meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

al-monitor Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani (C) and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (C L) talk to the head of the Israeli delegation national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat following an agreement signing ceremony in Bahrain's capital, Manama, on Oct. 18, 2020. Photo by RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Nov 16, 2020

Reports yesterday say that Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani will visit Israel on Wednesday. It will be his first visit to the country. During the visit, he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who will be in Israel from Wednesday through Friday. Reports say Israeli and Bahrain officials are working to finalize an aviation agreement for direct flights between Tel Aviv and Manama by Wednesday so it can be signed at the joint meeting. Israel seeks to start direct flights between the countries as soon as possible.

Israel’s Cabinet ratified on Sunday the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic, Peaceful and Friendly Relations with Bahrain, thus concluding the bilateral normalization process that began with the Sept. 15 ceremony at the White House. A ceremony announcing diplomatic relations between the two countries took place on Oct. 18 in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. The Knesset had approved the agreement on Nov. 10.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet meeting just before the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "The establishment of peaceful relations and normalization with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan constitutes a vast achievement for the State of Israel. This is the product of a continuous effort that we have led over the years, an effort to expand the circle of peace, an effort to bring true peace, an effort to bring peace for peace. I would like to again thank our friends, President Trump and King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and everyone who assisted — openly and covertly — in realizing these historic moves."

Last month, the government ratified a similar deal with the United Arab Emirates. Both deals, titled the Abraham Accords, were brokered by President Donald Trump’s administration. A third deal with Sudan was advanced as well.

Israel had already signed an aviation deal with the Emirates, with flights expected to be launched next month. Some Emirati airlines have even said they will start regular flights to and from Israel starting Nov. 26.

Netanyahu and several Cabinet ministers are concerned about potential misunderstandings stemming from cultural differences between Israelis and Emiratis. The prime minister advocates the publication of a “code of conduct" for Israelis about to visit the Emirates. Ashkenazi reportedly noted that a public explanation on how to behave in the Emirates was needed since the Emiratis “are very sensitive and Israelis sometimes don’t know how to behave."

On Nov. 11, Israel's, the Emirates' and Bahrain’s top tourism officials came together virtually to discuss new travel and business opportunities between the three countries. The virtual meeting was held in the framework of the World Travel Market (WTM) Virtual, which is the second-largest international tourism fair.

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