Israel FM sends Bahrain counterpart and ‘friend’ Eid greetings

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa yesterday received salutations for the Muslim celebration of Eid from his Israeli counterpart and “friend” Yisrael Katz.

“My friend Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, I would like to wish you and the people of Bahrain a blessed Eid Al-Adha holiday,” Katz wrote on Twitter.

“I hope that the heritage of the sons of Abraham, which we share with you, will lead to peace and brotherhood between the two peoples and to cooperation between the two countries. I look forward to seeing you again soon.”

Al Khalifa and Katz held their first open and public meeting in the US on the sidelines of the Advance Religious Freedom conference in mid-July.

Katz once again used Twitter to announce the meeting, posting a picture of the two men smiling while standing side-by-side.

“I met publicly with the foreign minister of Bahrain,” Katz said, adding he “will continue to work with @IsraeliPM to advance Israel’s relations with the Gulf countries”.

This comes at a time of increasing normalisation of relations between Israel and the Gulf Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman, all of which have witnessed various visits by diplomats.

This “new relationship” has culminated in a number of visits by Israeli establishment figures to Gulf states, including Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In December Netanyahu boasted that, following his meeting with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos Bin Said in October, Israel had been granted permission to use Omani airspace. Although in practical terms Israel cannot take advantage of the offer in the absence of a similar agreement with Saudi Arabia – which separates the two countries – the move signifies an unprecedented level of cooperation between Muscat and Tel Aviv. Israel has also made diplomatic overtures to Bahrain, with some Israeli media outlets predicting that Bahrain will sign a peace treaty with Israel this year.

However late last month it was reported that the King of Bahrain Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa rejected a request by Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Manama.