Bahrain trade minister on three-day trip to Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi each met today with Bahrain Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani, who arrived in Israel leading a delegation of 40 businesspeople.

al-monitor Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi meets with Bahrain Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani at the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Dec. 2, 2020. Photo by Shlomi Amsalem/Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Dec 2, 2020

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this morning warmly greeted Bahraini Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani, who is on a three-day visit to Israel. Speaking at a joint press conference, Netanyahu said, "These are wondrous days. This is the day when we realize peace, because of the courageous decision made by King Hamad." Netanyahu added that peace between the two countries is "flourishing in many ways, including on COVID-19. We'll discuss cooperation on this because things here are also moving at a very rapid pace."

A few hours before the meeting, Netanyahu posted on Twitter a video recorded in his office, greeting the Bahraini people on their National Day. "I want to wish His Highness, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, and all the citizens of the United Arab Emirates, our new friends, a very joyous National Day. Since the signing of the historic peace treaty between us, Israel-UAE relations have been moving ahead rapidly, quicker than we anticipated—in fact, at breakneck speed. We are cooperating in so many fields: in science and technology, in commerce and investments, in healthcare and education, in transportation and tourism. In these and so many other areas, our partnership is bringing tangible benefits to both our peoples,’’ stated Netanyahu.

Before meeting with Netanyahu, Zayani met with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. The Bahraini minister said after the meeting with Ashkenazi that his country would like to launch a direct air link to Israel soon. “With us today in the delegation is a significant team presence from Gulf Air, our national carrier, to make sure that that gets established and up and running as soon as possible,” he noted, adding, “We believe firmly that the continuity of this peace and the prosperity of this peace should be filtering down to the common citizen, in Bahrain and in Israel. The whole world is watching. We are determined and committed to make this a success story and to make it a case study for others to follow.”

Ashkenazi noted after the meeting that together with Zayani they "discussed our commitment to implement as quickly as possible the agreements between us." He also announced the establishment of a special economic team that will seek to maximize the business potential of the normalization agreement between the two countries.

Zayani is the second Bahrain minister to officially travel to Israel. On Nov. 18, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani landed in Israel for a one-day visit, leading a large official delegation. On that occasion, he invited his Israeli counterpart to visit Manama. Ashkenazi was thus slated to travel to Bahrain on Dec. 3 and participate in the IISS Manama Dialogue security conference that is scheduled for Dec. 4-6. A few days ago, it was published that Ashkenazi’s trip was postponed. Bahrain diplomatic protocol maintained that a head of state or government invited by the crown prince must visit before other Cabinet ministers may do so. In other words, Prime Minister Netanyahu should visit Bahrain before his foreign minister.

Netanyahu said last week that he had spoken on the phone with Bahrain’s crown prince and prime minister, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who invited him to visit the country. Reportedly, Netanyahu will fly to Manama in late December. He is also planning to visit soon the United Arab Emirates, perhaps on a combined trip to both countries. Ashkenazi is hoping to visit both countries after Netanyahu, perhaps inaugurating Israeli embassies in Abu Dhabi and Manama.

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