In a sign of accelerating relations between Israel and Bahrain, a Bahraini cabinet minister is leading a 40-person delegation to Israel for a three-day trip this week to discuss how both nations can cooperate to advance their respective economies.
ALL ARAB NEWS has learned that Zayed Alzayani, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism of Bahrain, will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other ministers to discuss collaboration between the private sectors of both countries.
Israel’s Minister of Regional Cooperation Ofir Akunis invited Alzayani, who will lead a delegation of Bahraini government officials, businessmen and journalists arriving Tuesday, sources tell me.
This visit comes two weeks after Bahrain’s first official delegation to Israel touched down in Tel Aviv with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani. The foreign minister met with Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and an American delegation in Jerusalem to advance the Abraham Accords.
Bahraini Ambassador Houda Nonoo — who has just joined the ALL ARAB NEWS advisory board — was with the foreign minister and has remained in Israel arranging meetings for the upcoming delegation in addition to coordinating possible delegations from Israel to Manama.
Nonoo, the first female ambassador from Bahrain ever sent to the United States, is also Jewish.
Both Israel and Bahrain plan to open embassies in their respective countries soon.
Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa invited Netanyahu to Manama during a phone call earlier this month. Netanyahu said he planned to visit “soon.”
Bahrain, an island nation of 1.5 million residents, became the second Gulf country to normalize relations with Israel. The United Arab Emirates announced it would make peace with Israel on Aug. 13 followed by Bahrain. Sudan joined the Abraham Accords in October.
This comes a few days after Rivlin hosted another significant Bahraini delegation, from the King Hamad Global Center for Peaceful Coexistence.
The delegation, led by Sheikh Khaled al-Khalifa Dubaij al-Khalifa, was in Israel to promote cooperation in the field of coexistence and tolerance.
“Both Israel and Bahrain value freedom of religion and tolerance, and see the different communities that make up their societies as a source of strength,” Rivlin said. “As the His Majesty King Hamad said so beautifully in his declaration, religion must be a power for harmony and cooperation around the world. We must not allow religion to be an excuse for violence.”