JERUSALEM – On his first-ever visit to Israel, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at Beit HaNasi, the president’s official residence in Jerusalem.

He also invited Rivlin to visit the Bahraini capital of Manama and expressed that Bahrain is eager to see all Israelis visit the modern and moderate Gulf state.

Rivlin warmly welcomed Al Zayani and reciprocated by inviting Bahrain’s King Hamad to visit Jerusalem and tour the State of Israel.

Shalom Aleichem, Salam Aleykum – welcome to Israel, welcome to Jerusalem,” Rivlin said. “I am so very proud, honored, and yes even excited, that our two nations have shown the world, that this is also a time for peace. The whole world should come and see the flags of Israel and Bahrain, flying together today – here at Beit HaNasi and in the streets of Jerusalem. This is a new era of friendship, of cooperation, of partnership. And I welcome you to Jerusalem, in this spirit, as a friend. I hope that we will soon see the end of corona, and we will be able to welcome more tourists, and among them, many people from Bahrain.”

Rivlin presented the foreign minister with a copy of the Qur’an that his father, the late-Professor Yosef Yoel Rivlin, translated into Hebrew.

“This is a gift I will treasure all my life,” Al Zayani said, deeply moved by the gesture.

He noted that the Bahraini people seek what Israelis seek – peace, tolerance and co-existence, even when there are disagreements on various issues.

“These are values that King Hamad is working on spreading around the region,” said the foreign minister. “We are confident that we can succeed. The path of peace is not easy. As partners, we can overcome them and show the fruits of peace among nations. I will convey your kind invitation to the King and your best regards.”

Joining the foreign minister was a very special guest, Houda Nonoo, who served for six years as Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States.

She is Jewish.

She is also a member of the ALL ARAB NEWS advisory board.

Ambassador Nonoo specifically invited President Rivlin to come to Bahrain for Purim and to open the new synagogue built by the Jewish community.

She spoke of the small Jewish community in the country and thanked Rivlin for his historic welcome.

“We have a lot we can do together, for the future of all peoples,” Rivlin said. “And when I say, that we want a better future, for all peoples, I also include of course, our neighbors the Palestinians. The new friendship, between Israel and Bahrain, and others in our region, makes clear, that peace is possible, and that the world will not wait. So, I make clear to the Palestinian people that Israel wants to live in peace in this region. Jews and Muslims, the children of Abraham, Israelis and Palestinians are not doomed to live together, we are destined to live together. It is time to build trust and to make peace.”

Separately, Bahrain’s foreign minister held extensive talks Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Joining those talks was Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.

Part of the focus was planning for Israel and Bahrain to open embassies in each other’s countries.

Covering the visit was Ahdeya Ahmed Al-Sayed, chairman of the Bahrain Journalists Association and winner of the 2019 award for best Arab Woman Journalist.

“The meeting between foreign ministers Al Zayani and Ashkenazi was one that will always be remembered as a turning point in history,” Al-Sayed told ALL ARAB NEWS. “I personally feel that the announcement regarding the opening of the embassies in each others countries is something I never imagined I could witness.”

“People who choose the path of peace will enter the chapters of our history books as brave and courageous leaders who changed the future,” Al-Sayed added. “The moment Gulf Air landed with this high-level diplomatic delegation at Ben-Gurion airport is a source of pride and happiness for me as a Bahraini. I grew up in a country that advocated for peace and co-existence. Today, I’m proud to see my country change the course of history and take a lead as a peacemaking nation.”

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