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WikiLeaks: Bahrain FM Planned to Meet Israeli Officials in Support of Peace Process

Evidence of Bahrain's moderate attitude appeared in a 2007 cable about a meeting between Khalifa and U.S. Jews, at which he told them that Palestinian refugees should return to Palestine, not to Israel.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa expressed willingness to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials at the start of the latter's term in order to move the peace process ahead, according to WikiLeaks.

Documents released at the end of the week on the WikiLeaks website show that senior officials from Israel and Bahrain met secretly several times over the years, in Europe or at the United Nations General Assembly.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa - AP - Feb 17, 2011

Evidence of Bahrain's moderate attitude appeared in a cable from October 2007 about a meeting between Khalifa and a delegation from the American Jewish Committee, at which he told them that Palestinian refugees should return to Palestine, not to Israel.

The Bahraini foreign minister was harshly criticized by the Bahraini parliament for meeting with then-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in October 2007 during the UN General Assembly.

In an op-ed in The Washington Post on July 16, 2009, Bahrain's crown prince, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, called for Arab leaders to address the Israeli public directly. That article, too, was sharply criticized, the U.S. ambassador to Bahrain, Adam Ereli, reported.

On July 28, 2009, U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell met in Manama with the Bahraini crown prince, who stressed that now was the time to address the fears of the Israeli people and that doing so would make Netanyahu's job easier.

WikiLeaks posted a cable from the U.S. Embassy reporting that "Ambassador Saeed Al Faihani, advisor to Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, told us August 20 that the Foreign Minister was still hoping to follow up on Crown Prince Salman's 'Washington Post' op-ed of July 16."

Faihani, the cable continued, said "that he is in contact with at least one Israeli journalist - from 'Ha'aretz' - and that the Foreign Minister is seeking clearance from Bahrain's leadership to grant an interview. In earlier conversations, the FM has told us that he wishes to address ordinary Israelis directly and help strengthen the constituency for compromise."

However, the Bahrainis ultimately decided against both the interview and the meeting with Netanyahu.