Flights between Israel and the United Arab Emirates will be able to fly over Bahrain after the kingdom on Thursday said all services to and from the UAE can cross its airspace.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held closed-door meetings Wednesday with Bahrain's royal family and top officials in the United Arab Emirates amid the Trump administration's push for Arab nations to recognize Israel.
Bahrain, a small island nation just off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, has a historic Jewish community. The kingdom has slowly encouraged ties to Israel, with two U.S.-based rabbis in 2017 saying King Hamad himself promoted the idea of ending the boycott of Israel by Arab nations. That boycott had been in place to offer Palestinians support in their efforts to form an independent state.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia has agreed to let flights between Israel and the United Arab Emirates through the kingdom's airspace, Saudi state media and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced.
In Manama, Pompeo tweeted that he met with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and his son, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, on Wednesday morning. “We discussed the importance of building regional peace and stability, including the importance of Gulf unity and countering Iran’s malign influence in the region,” Pompeo wrote.
Also on Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi spoke with Netanyahu over the phone, stressing Cairo’s support for “any effort towards regional peace that would maintain the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights.
In a statement after the meeting, the state-run Bahrain News Agency said King Hamad “stressed the importance of intensifying efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.” The king said that includes a two-state solution for an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital — a longtime Arab stance.
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On Monday, El Al flight LY971 from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, carrying an Israeli delegation on its way to hold meetings to finalize the normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates, made the first publicly acknowledged entry of an Israeli plane into Saudi airspace.