According to Israeli Channel 2, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his willingness to open diplomatic relations with Bahrain, during an unannounced visit of the Chadian President Idriss Deby to Jerusalem on Sunday.
In a news conference with Deby, Netanyahu said they had discussed the changing attitudes of some Arab countries towards Israel.
“This was a manifest in my recent visit in Oman,” he said, referring to his trip last October, where he met Sultan Sayyid Qaboos at the royal palace in the coastal city of Seeb near the capital, Muscat.
“There will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon,” the Israeli prime minister added.
Netanyahu’s trip was followed by the attendance of Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz at an international transport conference in Oman earlier this month, where he pitched a railway project that would link the Gulf countries to the Mediterranean via Israel.
Hani Marzouk, spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office for Arab media, said in remarks to the Israeli Broadcast Authority last Friday that it was “the beginning of new relations and an indication that we are on the right track to correct history”, without giving further details on the visit.
“The Kingdom of Bahrain is the next destination for Netanyahu,” Marzouk said.
“Israel sees the Arab world is large, diverse and has rich human potential and it wants to establish great relations with it at the scientific and academic level,” he added.
Meanwhile, Bahrain has invited Israel’s economics minister, Eli Cohen, to an economic start-up conference next April, organised by the World Bank.
According to Israeli media reports on Sunday, the three-day conference will discuss methods to promote economic growth with the participation of decision-makers, entrepreneurs and investors from 170 countries.
Israel has diplomatic relations with only two Arab countries – Egypt and Jordan – but Netanyahu has hinted at improved relations with Gulf states, which his country considers natural allies in confronting Iran.