Manama: Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid began a landmark visit Thursday to Bahrain where he will open the Israeli embassy one year after the US-brokered normalisation of ties.
The Israeli top diplomat touched down at Manama airport just over an hour before a Gulf Air A320 took off for the first commercial flight between the two countries.
The Tel Aviv-bound flight and Israel’s first bilateral ministerial visit to Bahrain are part of a thaw in regional relations after the UAE, Morocco and Sudan also established ties last year under agreements known as the Abraham Accords.
“We’ve landed in Bahrain. I’m proud to represent Israel in an official and historic first in the kingdom. Thanks for the warm reception,” Lapid tweeted.
Memorandums of understanding on technology and the economy will be signed during Lapid’s visit, along with agreements involving Israel’s national water company and Sheba hospital, Israeli officials said.
The Arab countries involved in the Abraham Accords have stressed the economic benefits of ties with Israel, with half a billion dollars in trade already reported with the UAE.
The UAE, Bahrain and Morocco became the first Arab states in decades to normalise relations with Israel last year, following negotiations spearheaded by former US president Donald Trump.
Israel had earlier reached peace treaties with neighbouring Egypt and Jordan.
On the first anniversary of the Abraham Accords this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged to continue the efforts of the Trump government.
“This administration will continue to build on the successful efforts of the last administration to keep normalisation marching forward,” Blinken said.
“We will encourage more countries to follow the lead of the Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco. We want to widen the circle of peaceful diplomacy,” Blinken said.