Israel’s FM historic visit to Bahrain on diplomatic relations anniversary

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Israel’s foreign minister on Sunday opened a visit to Bahrain that comes as the countries mark the third anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

It was the first visit by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to any of the four countries that normalized ties with Israel under the 2020 US-brokered Abraham Accords. Israel’s far-right government took office in December.

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Cohen had been scheduled to travel to Bahrain earlier this summer but the visit was postponed. Israeli media have said the delay was due to a visit by Israel’s ultranationalist national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, to a contested holy site in Jerusalem.

Cohen was greeted at the airport by his Bahraini counterpart, Abdullatif al-Zayani. On Monday, he is scheduled to meet Bahraini leaders and inaugurate Israel’s new embassy.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed normalization agreements with Israel in September 2020, becoming the first of four Arab countries to join the Abraham Accords, brokered by then-President Donald Trump.

Israel’s ties with the Arab world have cooled under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government, in large part because of its hard-line policies toward the Palestinians.

The Biden Administration is trying to negotiate a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

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