Bahrain Foreign Minister to Visit Israel for Meeting With Netanyahu, Pompeo

Bahraini official says Abdullatif Al Zayani will hold talks on areas of cooperation raised during Israeli delegation's visit to Manama last month, and a U.S. delegation is set to arrive in Manama in November

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Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani delivers a statement upon the arrival of an Israeli delegation, in Muharraq, Bahrain, Oct. 18, 2020.
Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani delivers a statement upon the arrival of an Israeli delegation, in Muharraq, Bahrain, Oct. 18, 2020. Credit: Ronen Zvulun/Pool Photo via AP

Bahrain's foreign minister will travel to Israel on Wednesday in Manama's first official delegation there and is due to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, diplomats said.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates established formal ties with Israel in a U.S.-brokered deal signed at the White House on September 15. Sudan has since said it would also formalize relations with Israel, a former foe.

Abdullatif Al Zayani's trip to Israel will coincide with a visit there by Pompeo. They will hold a three-way meeting with Netanyahu, two diplomats briefed on the planning said.

An official in Bahrain's Foreign Ministry told Reuters that Al Zayani would hold talks on areas of cooperation broached during an Israeli delegation's visit to Manama on October 18.

A U.S. delegation will travel to Bahrain and Israel in mid-November, a senior White House official said, to support expanded economic cooperation under the deal signed between Bahrain and Israel. 

The delegation, led by Special Representative for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz, will also include senior Middle East and international negotiation officials from the National Security Council, as well as Ari Einhorn, director of the White House's Office of the Special Representative for International Negotiations and Paul Packer, chairman of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.

From Manama, they will depart for Tel Aviv on the first direct commercial flight to Israel from Bahrain, joined by Bahrain officials. There, they will meet with their Israeli counterparts.

Last week, lawmakers approved the deal establishing formal relations with Bahrain, by a vote of 62 lawmakers in favor and 14 opposed. 

All of the 14 lawmakers who voted against the deal were members of the Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties.

Netanyahu delivered remarks ahead of the vote in which he called the accords, brokered by the Trump administration, a historic moment, saying “Together we will stand as a wall opposite Iranian-led radical Islam.”

He added: "The Palestinian veto simply held up peace. Since the Balfour Declaration, the Palestinians have been demanding a return to ‘67 [borders], flooding Israel with refugees and dividing Jerusalem. Demands that no government in Israel agrees with. If we become dependent on Palestinian refusal, we will have to wait many more years."

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