Israeli foreign minister visits Bahrain, his first trip to an Arab ally

AP , Monday 4 Sep 2023

Israel’s foreign minister on Sunday opened a visit to Bahrain that comes as the countries mark the third anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Israel - Bahrain
A handout picture released by Bahrain s official news agency (BNA) on September 3, 2023 shows Bahrain s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani receiving his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen upon his arrival in Manama. AFP


It was the first visit by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to any of the countries that normalized ties with Israel under the 2020 U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords.

Cohen had been scheduled to travel to Bahrain earlier this summer but the visit was postponed. Israeli media have said the delay was due to a provocative visit by Israel’s far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, to Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa compound just days after taking office. The move drew widespread condemnation from the Arab world as well as the international community who view such visits as provocative and aiming at changing the status quo of the Muslim holy site.

During the Monday visit, Cohen is scheduled to meet Bahraini leaders and inaugurate Israel’s new embassy.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed normalization agreements with Israel in September 2020, becoming the first of four Arab countries to join the Abraham Accords, brokered by then-President Donald Trump.

Israel’s ties with the Arab world have cooled under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government, in large part because of its hard-line policies toward the Palestinians.

The Biden Administration is trying to negotiate a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

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