Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today, Tuesday, that he will visit Bahrain “soon,” at the invitation of Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
In a statement about a phone call with the Crown Prince of Bahrain, Netanyahu said: “Both of us are looking forward to our peoples and countries reaping the fruits of peace in a short period of time. This is why he invited me to a speedy official visit to Bahrain, and I asked the invitation happily.”
On the eleventh of last September, US President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Bahrain and Israel had reached a “historic agreement” to establish full relations between them.
On the fifteenth of the same month, Israel, the UAE and Bahrain signed a normalization agreement at a party headed by Trump, and the agreement was called “Ibrahim.”
Trump described the event at the time as an “extraordinary day for the world, which would set history on a new course,” and praised what he called “the dawn of a new Middle East.”
The announcement of normalization between Bahrain and Israel was not a surprise decision, but an expected step that came less than a month after the conclusion of a similar decision between Israel and the UAE.
On the 18th of last October, Israel and Bahrain officially inaugurated their diplomatic relations.
In a ceremony held in the Bahraini capital, Manama, on the same evening, Bahraini and Israeli officials, with US mediation, signed a “joint statement” regarding the establishment of full diplomatic relations.
The next day, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdul Latif Al-Zayani, who was on a visit to Israel, announced that he had submitted a formal request to the Israeli government to open an embassy for his country in Tel Aviv.
He pointed out that the government of the Kingdom of Bahrain agreed to the Israeli request to open an embassy in Manama.
The Bahraini Foreign Minister added that Israel and Bahrain will implement an electronic visa system on December 1 for their citizens to facilitate free travel between the two countries.
In October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “the three normalization agreements with Arab countries ended the geographical isolation of Israel by providing shorter and cheaper flights.”
“We are changing the map of the Middle East,” Netanyahu added at a press conference, pointing to a whiteboard with graphs of flight paths.
He said that traveling over Saudi, Bahraini and Emirati airspace would save travelers heading to India and other Asian destinations “hours and a lot of money, of course.”
Observers believe that the rapprochement between Israel and Bahrain went through years of secrecy, and it became public in 2017 when an Israeli delegation was allowed to participate in a FIFA competition in Manama.
Netanyahu’s announcement of his visit “soon” to Bahrain comes a day after news published by Israeli media and confirmed by an Israeli minister of a “secret” visit by Netanyahu to Saudi Arabia, in which he met with Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was visiting the Kingdom, but the Saudi Foreign Ministry She denied that Israelis attended that meeting.
For decades, most Arab states boycotted Israel, insisting that it would not establish relations with it until after the Palestinian conflict was settled.
Bahrain is now the fourth Arab country in the Middle East – after the UAE, Egypt and Jordan – to recognize Israel since its founding in 1948.