Israel says formal diplomatic ties with Bahrain to begin Sunday
Israel to send delegates to Bahrain on Sunday to formalise nascent ties following US-brokered normalisation deal.
Israel and Bahrain will officially establish diplomatic relations on Sunday at a ceremony in Manama, an Israeli official said, after the two states reached a US-brokered normalisation deal last month.
A visiting delegation from Israel and officials in Bahrain will sign a “joint communique (that) is the establishment of full diplomatic relations,” an Israel official in Manama told reporters.
Once the text is signed at a ceremony scheduled for Sunday evening, Israel and Bahrain will be free to open embassies in each other’s countries, the official said.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain became the third and fourth Arab states to agree to normalise ties with Israel, following Egypt’s peace deal with Israel in 1979 and a 1994 pact with Jordan.
Sunday’s meeting follows a September 15 ceremony at the White House when Israel, the UAE and Bahrain inked the so-called “Abraham Accords” brokered by President Donald Trump’s administration.
The delegation, led by Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, will be accompanied by US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, whose office said the mission seeks “expanded economic cooperation” among Israel, Bahrain and UAE.
In addition to the joint communique establishing diplomatic ties, Israel and Bahrain are expected to sign “six to eight” MoUs, including on economic cooperation, the Israeli official said.
The official said he could not outline the substance of all the agreements scheduled for signature on Sunday, but security cooperation is likely to feature prominently in bilateral talks.
Earlier this month, Israel’s Mossad spy agency chief Yossi Cohen held talks in Bahrain with top security and intelligence officials on “topics of mutual interest,” according to the Bahrain News Agency.
Mnuchin and another senior Trump aide, Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, will continue on Monday to the UAE, whose accord with Israel has opened up the possibilities of bilateral commerce. On Tuesday, the US dignitaries will accompany the UAE’s first delegation to Israel.
Israel and the UAE have reached a bilateral agreement that will give incentives and protection to investors who make investments in each other’s countries, both finance ministries said on Sunday.
The UAE finance ministry said the agreement – which still needs to be signed by both finance ministers – would protect investments from non-commercial risks such as “nationalisation, confiscation, judicial seizures, freezing assets, establishing licensed investments, and transferring profits and revenues in convertible currencies”.
Last week, the UAE and Israel reached a preliminary agreement on a separate deal that would avoid double taxation.
The Palestinian leadership has condemned the Gulf normalisation agreements with Israel as “a stab in the back” for Palestinian aspirations to establish an independent state of their own.
The deals mark a distinct shift in a decades-old status quo where Arab countries have tried to maintain unity against Israel over its treatment of the stateless Palestinians.
Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists that more states in the Middle East want ties with Israel as priorities have shifted, arguing that countries now value lucrative trade opportunities above the Palestinian conflict.
But key player Saudi Arabia has said it will not follow its allies Bahrain and the UAE in establishing diplomatic relations without a resolution to the Palestinian issue.
Israel’s parliament on Thursday ratified the normalisation agreement with the UAE.
A separate vote on the Bahrain pact is expected once the details are finalised.