Israel’s Netanyahu says he will visit Bahrain soon

Bahrain followed the UAE in normalising ties with Israel in a US-brokered deal that marked alignment against Iran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani deliver statements in Jerusalem last week [File: Menahem Kahana/Reuters]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will visit Bahrain “soon” at the invitation of the Gulf state’s Crown Prince Salman al-Khalifa.

Bahrain followed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in normalising ties with Israel in a deal brokered by the United States that marked a strategic Middle East alignment against Iran.

The shift has enraged the Palestinians who have demanded statehood before any such regional rapprochement with Israel.

“We are both excited to bring the fruits of peace to our people and countries in such a short time. That’s why he [al-Khalifa] invited me to come soon for a formal visit in Bahrain and I will do this happily,” Netanyahu said in a statement on Tuesday about a phone call he held with the crown prince.

A first Bahraini delegation visited Israel last Wednesday.

MBS and Netanyahu

On Monday, an Israeli official and local media said Netanyahu had secretly travelled to Saudi Arabia on Sunday for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, denied such talks took place. Netanyahu did not confirm or deny the reports.

Since September, the Trump administration has brokered agreements with Bahrain, the UAE, and Sudan towards normalising their relations with Israel. An Israeli delegation travelled to Sudan on Monday.

Although White House officials have said more countries are considering normalising ties with Israel, further developments appear unlikely before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20 and establishes his administration’s policy on Iran.

Biden has said he would rejoin the nuclear accord that world powers signed with Iran if it first resumed strict compliance with the deal, and would work with allies to strengthen its terms.

Source: News Agencies