Bahrain’s king, crown prince host Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Manama during historic visit, speak of mutual goals – and threats
The Israeli premier told King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa that his visit is meant to “mold more content into the Abraham Accords”
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by Tal Heinrich | February 15, 2022
Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa meets with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Feb. 15, 2022 (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)
Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the prime minister, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to Manama as the Israeli premiere continued his historic visit in Bahrain on Tuesday.
“I consider it a historical day, to receive the prime minister of Israel. His visit to Bahrain will be a fruitful visit, a successful visit, because of his determination and leadership towards a joint, integrated effort for the best of the two peoples. I thank him for coming here,” King Hamad said.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that the leaders discussed expanding strategic and security relations between the two countries against regional challenges that include nuclear threats, terror activities, religious extremism, poverty and social challenges.
“Your Majesty, it has been a huge honor to visit your wonderful Kingdom of Bahrain, and I admire your courage and your determination to build your country,” Bennett said. “I think we discussed many ways to build new bridges, and an architecture for a stronger and more stable region. And I’m looking forward to continuing this remarkable relationship.”
“We discussed many ways to build new bridges and architecture for a stronger and more stable region. I expect to continue the excellent relationship between us,” Bennett told the king.
In an interview with Bahrain’s daily newspaper, Alayam, Bennett said that, “Israel and Bahrain are dealing with major security challenges stemming from the same source; the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
He added that Iran operates to destabilize the region “in order to achieve one goal, which is to destroy moderate countries that care about the welfare of their people… and install blood-thirsty terrorist organizations in their place.”
Earlier in the day Bennett was welcomed at the Crown Prince’s office in Manama as a military band played Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah.” Following their one-on-one conversation, the Israeli and Bahraini delegations held meetings and shared a meal.
“We must do more and build upon the Abraham Accords,” the crown prince said. “I feel great pleasure to welcome you to the Kingdom of Bahrain. I feel very happy you are here, and I look forward to all the wonderful things we will be able to do together as individuals and as peoples.”
Bennett told his Bahraini counterpart in a shared press conference that the goal of his visit is to convert the Abraham Accords agreements “from ceremonies to substance” with a focus on people-to-people peace.
“I come from Israel with a spirit of good will, of cooperation, of standing together amidst mutual challenges,” Bennett said. “We want to fill this relationship with substance in energy, in drive, in economy, in tourism and in the regional architecture.”
In the morning hours, Bennett met with Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani and Transportation and Telecommunications Minister Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed. They discussed deepening cooperation and opportunities for Jewish and Muslim entrepreneurs and business owners.
As part of his visit, Bennett also met with U.S. Fifth Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Brad Cooper. Bennett praised the cooperation between the IDF and the U.S. Armed Forces in the region. According to a Reuters report, the U.S. Navy is considering adding unmanned Israeli boats to its joint Middle East operations. In the coming weeks, Israel is expected to deploy an IDF Navy officer to the fleet’s Manama headquarters.
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