Israel and Bahrain signed a “joint communique on establishing peaceful and diplomatic relations” during the visit of a high-level Israeli government delegation to Manama.
The two states signed memorandums of understanding, with the peace and normalization as the central document.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Bahraini Foreign Minister Adullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani before the signing, saying: “We are making giant steps to promote peace… This is the start of a breakthrough towards peace.”
The first El Al flight to Manama took off from Ben-Gurion Airport, with American and Israeli officials aboard. It was flight LY973, the number corresponds to Bahrain’s international dialing code. Captain Bobby Lavi addressed his passengers and said: “We wish you a pleasant flight and are looking forward for a new era of peace, salaam and shalom for the whole region. Thank you.”
Al-Zayani, who signed the countries’ first peace declaration in Washington last month, and Undersecretary of International Affairs Abdullah bin Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Khalifa greeted the visitors when they landed in Manama.
Bahrain’s foreign minister told the delegations that they were building on the Abraham Accords, the agreements his country and the United Arab Emirates signed with Israel last month, “with the optimism that such a peace will bring a new stability and prosperity to the region, allowing our young people across the Middle East to achieve the potential, the aspirations, which they have been denied for too long. Today we put in place the foundations through which we can reach this goal.”
Al-Zayani expressed his appreciation for Bahraini King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa’s “unflinching commitment to peace, dialogue and cooperation,” which he said brought the region to a point where people “can now genuinely see a realistic alternative to the decades of division and conflict.”
National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat led the Israeli delegation, and was joined by Prime Minister’s Office Acting Director-General Ronen Peretz and Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz, as well as top officials from the Tourism and Communications Ministries.
Ben-Shabbat said on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion Airport that the delegation was heading to Manama to “translate the declarations at the White House into something practical.”
Upon landing in Manama, Ben-Shabbat spoke in Hebrew and Arabic, saying “we came to add blessings and peace.”
He said Israel and Bahrain were similar in many ways, they are small geographically and have small populations, but “a pioneering spirit.”
Referring to the Torah portion read the day before, in which God separates darkness from light, Ben-Shabbat added: “Together we will spread light and increase the good.”
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Special Representative for International Negotiations Avi Berkowitz, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman were also on the flight.