Israel and Bahrain sign framework agreement for establishment of relations

The two countries signed a series of agreements in Manama on cooperation in military and civilian fields. The Bahraini foreign minister called it a "historic visit". The head of Israel's National Security Council said "today we are one family" 

The signing ceremony in Manama. Photo: Matty Stern/US Embassy Jerusalem

Israel and Bahrain signed a series of agreements on cooperation in military and civilian fields on Sunday. A delegation of Israeli and US officials, headed by Meir Ben-Shabbat, head of Israel's National Security Council, and Steve Mnuchin, the US Secretary of the Treasury, landed in Manama, capital of Bahrain, in the afternoon. In the ceremony held at the White House last month, the two countries signed a "Declaration of Peace, Cooperation, and Constructive Diplomatic and Friendly Relations."          

"Today we are one family, the family of the sons of Abraham," said Ben Shabbat. "It was indeed a historic visit, to start opening relations between both countries," said the Bahraini foreign minister, Abdullatif Al Zayani. "We are following the path set by Abraham, our common patriarch." He referred to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by saying that Bahrain supports its resolution via dialogue.   

During the flight to Bahrain -  El Al Flight 973, in a nod to the international dialing code of the Persian Gulf state -  Mnuchin told reporters that it is an important step for regional stability and "just the beginning of the work that is going forward. I think the opportunity is way beyond just investments. It’s in technology, building various different businesses - and in the case of Bahrain as well, really expanding the opportunities for them quite, quite, quite dramatically."

According to a report by Reuters, Bahraini politician Houda Nounoo said that the country plans to officially reopen Manama's old synagogue before the celebration of the Jewish holiday of Purim. The Jewish community of Bahrain consists of 34 people, including Nounoo who previously served as Bahrain's ambassador to the US and holds the distinction of being the first-ever Jewish ambassador of a Muslim country.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, in a post on Twitter, said the agreements "lay the foundation for true peace. A peace that will provide Israelis, Bahrainis and the people of the region, both present and future, a reality based on mutual endeavors and respect." 

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