Israel, Bahrain reach agreement to formalize diplomatic relations
Published: Oct 19, 2020 05:33 PM

Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat (left) and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani (right) sign MOUs in Manama, Bahrain on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Israel and Bahrain cemented a deal officially establishing relations and signed seven memorandums of understanding Sunday, further opening up the wealthy Gulf region to the Jewish state.

The documentation was signed at a ceremony in the presence of other international dignitaries and reporters, an AFP correspondent said, fleshing out a US-brokered deal the two nations had agreed to at the White House on September 15.

The Israeli delegation, led by National Security Council chief Meir Ben Shabbat, had traveled to Manama from Tel Aviv on the first direct flight between the two countries.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and President Donald Trump's special assistant for international negotiations, Avi Berkowitz, had traveled to Tel Aviv before joining the Israeli delegation's flight to Manama.  

But Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, as well as the crown prince and prime minister, were absent from the ceremony. 

On Sunday, the two nations' officials agreed to establish peaceful diplomatic relations and cooperate in the fields of economy, civil aviation, finance, and agriculture, Israel's foreign ministry said. 

It also said it would cooperate with Bahrain's foreign ministry and noted that the two nations had agreed Sunday on the exemption of visa requirements for diplomats. 

Bahrain's foreign minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, said the decision comes from the "belief in the values of tolerance... in a region whose people have suffered from wars and conflicts."