An Israeli delegation, led by Meir Ben Shabbat, head of the National Security Council, went from Tel Aviv to Manama. It is the first direct flight between the two countries to formalize the US deal, which they agreed to at the White House on September 15. The US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was also present on Sunday.
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani said at the ceremony that it was “the beginning of relations between the two countries leading to constructive cooperation in various areas.”
He said the decision to normalize ties with the Jewish state stems from a “belief in the values of tolerance in a region whose population has suffered wars and conflicts.” The agreement and cooperation are, he says, the most efficient and sustainable way to bring about real and lasting peace in the area.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain had signed historic agreements in Washington in mid-September on establishing diplomatic relations. Of the Arab countries, only Egypt and Jordan have diplomatic contacts with Israel so far.
Saudi Arabia reacted reluctantly to the agreements. However, the kingdom has opened its airspace to air connections between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain.
The Palestinians have condemned the Gulf agreements with Israel as “a stab in the back” for their aspirations to establish an independent state.
The deal also sparked anger among Bahrainis at home and abroad. The government of Bahrain, where a Sunni Muslim minority rules a Shia majority, previously said the deal protects its interests against Iran.