Israel’s Netanyahu says invited to visit Bahrain ‘soon’

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The announcement came after the Israeli premier spoke with Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa.

Tuesday 24/11/2020

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (back) attends a signing ceremony between Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat (L) and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani (C), in Manama, on October 18, 2020. (AFP)

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that he spoke with the crown prince of Bahrain and would visit the Gulf state “soon,” a month after the two countries established formal diplomatic relations.

Bahrain’s foreign minister visited Israel last week in a mark of the warming ties between the two countries following the signing of US-brokered accords in September. In October, the two countries established formal ties, and signed a series of agreements to promote bilateral cooperation.

Netanyahu said in a statement released on social media that he spoke with Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa. “We are both excited to bring the fruits of peace to our people and countries in such a short time. That’s why he (al-Khalifa) invited me to come soon for a formal visit in Bahrain and I will do this happily,” the Israeli premier said in a statement about the phone call he held with the crown prince.

Over the past several months, Israel has signed treaties to normalise ties with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, the first Arab states to do so in decades. But the deals orchestrated by the administration have outraged the Palestinians, who have long counted on a united Arab stance that recognition of Israel should come only after they achieve an independent state.

On Monday, Israeli media reported that Netanyahu visited Saudi Arabia and met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud denied such talks took place. Netanyahu did not confirm or deny the reports.

Since September, the Trump administration has brokered agreements with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan toward normalising their relations with Israel. An Israeli delegation traveled to Sudan on Monday.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make a joint statement to the press after meeting in Jerusalem, on August 24, 2020. (AFP)

Although White House officials have said more countries are considering normalising ties with Israel, further developments appear unlikely before US President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20 and establishes his administration’s policy on Iran.

Biden has said he would rejoin the nuclear accord that world powers signed with Iran if it first resumed strict compliance with the deal, and would work with allies to strengthen its terms.

These breakthroughs reflect a changing Middle East in which Israel and the Gulf countries view Iran as a mutual threat that eclipses old enmity caused by Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

Until this year’s accords, Egypt and Jordan were the only Arab states to recognise Israel after signing peace accords in 1979 and 1994, respectively.

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