When U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives in Jerusalem on Wednesday he will not simply meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or take what may be his last tour of the Holy Land as the head of the State Department.
During his 48-hours on the ground, Pompeo will also hold a summit to advance the Abraham Accords in a significant way.
Pompeo, Netanyahu and Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi will welcome and have extended meetings with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al- Zayani.
In the historic first visit of Bahraini officials to Israel, Minister Zayani will bring a team of experts to hammer out new details related to the Israel-Bahrain normalization agreement.
The delegation is expected to include Bahrain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism.
Diplomatic sources tell ALL ARAB NEWS that Bahrain is “excited” to welcome Israeli tourists, and agreements are being finalized to allow for direct flights from Tel Aviv to Manama, instant visas and COVID-19 clearances.
The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Manama has announced it is now serving kosher foods at its restaurants and via room service.
Other hotels and restaurants are expected to follow soon.
“We are a few steps behind the Emirates,” a Bahraini official told ALL ARAB NEWS. “But we are determined to catch up. We’re excited to welcome Israelis and the meetings in Jerusalem should help clear the way to make that happen.”
Bahrain was the second country after the United Arab Emirates to join the Abraham Accords, making their announcement on Sept. 11.
Sudan was the third country to join, and others are expected.
Bahrain – a small Gulf island nation with some 1.5 million residents – is currently mourning the passing of its long-time prime minister, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who died last week at the age of 84. He served as premier for half a century.
The nation’s crown prince, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, has just been appointed prime minister and will serve in both capacities.
Only 51, Sheikh Salman has been serving as deputy prime minister for the last few years. He knows the job well and is familiar with all the key players in the country and the region.
Sources tell ALL ARAB NEWS that Sheikh Salman is an avowed moderate Muslim and is expected to lead the nation – under King Hamad’s supervision – with even more bold reforms.
Peace with Israel and a strong security alliance with the Gulf states, the U.S. and Israel against regional threats – most notably the Iranian regime – are among the sheikh’s top priorities.
That said, the new prime minister is not well known publicly.
ALL ARAB NEWS will provide further coverage in the weeks ahead about who he is and where he wants to take Bahrain.
On Sunday, Israel’s Cabinet formally ratified the normalization agreement with Bahrain known as the “Joint Communique.”
Pompeo is currently on a seven-nation tour. His stops include France, Turkey, Georgia, Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.