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Israeli chief, Naftali Bennett, Meets Bahrain Counterpart, Signaling Regional Shift

MANAMA, Bahrain – Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel met Tuesday in Bahrain along with his Bahraini counterpart, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, a part of a heat welcome that gives the newest proof of shortly and just lately political reorganization of the Middle East.

Mr. Bennett met later within the afternoon with the prince’s father, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, the pinnacle of state in Bahrain, a small however strategically situated Gulf state.

Mr. Bennett additionally met with Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of the US Navy’s fifth Fleet based mostly in Bahrain; a number of Bahraini ministers; and members of the Jewish neighborhood in Bahrain, to whom he offered a rifle, a ceremonial Jewish horn.

“Our aim on this go to is to rework it from a authorities to authorities to a peace between individuals to individuals,” Mr. Bennett informed the crown prince, “and transfer on,” Mr. Bennett informed the crown prince. it goes from ritual to substance.”

“Exactly in substance,” Crown Prince Salman replied, describing the assembly as “a cousin assembly.”

The Israeli authorities additionally introduced an settlement with Bahrain to fund joint enterprise ventures within the fields of climate-related know-how, manufacturing and e-commerce.

Mr. Bennett’s journey to Bahrain, the first official visit of an Israeli prime minister to the countryreveals the rising relationship between Israel and a number of other Arab governments over the previous 18 months.

Since 2020, Israel has established official diplomatic relations with . for the primary time Bahrain and United Arab Emiratesreestablish relations with Moroccoand enhance them with Sudan.

For years, the overwhelming majority of the Arab world refused to normalize relations with Israel so long as the Israeli-Palestinian battle remained unresolved.

Mr Bennett arrived in Bahrain on Monday night, descending from his airplane to the crimson carpet lined by an honor guard, a salute that highlights how priorities have modified for a number of international locations within the area .

For Bahrain, the containment of Iran and its armed forces all through the area – a aim shared with Israel – is now of larger significance than a direct resolution to the Israeli conflict- Palestine, particularly Iran accelerates nuclear enrichment.

Bahrain will host an Israeli navy officer for the primary time as a part of a regional alliance, an Israeli official confirmed on Tuesday. The target is to make sure freedom of navigation and worldwide commerce within the Persian Gulf, after several attacks by Iran and its proxies on ships in the region.

Bahrain’s invitation to Mr. Bennett additionally hinted at Saudi Arabia’s rising acceptance of Israel’s function within the area, essentially the most influential nation within the Arab world and a serious rival to Iran.

Formally, Saudi officers deny that the dominion plans to observe in Bahrain’s footsteps by normalizing relations with Israel. The dominion has additionally denied that the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, hold a secret summit in 2020 with Mr. Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was nonetheless in workplace on the time.

However Saudi assist is essential to Bahrain – Saudi troops flocked to Bahrain in 2011 to assist their authorities crush an rebellion and the Saudi authorities bailed out Bahrain’s financial system in 2018 – and analysts say Bahrain, as Saudi Arabia’s proxies, does little or no on the contract.

Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a political scientist and knowledgeable on Gulf politics, mentioned: “Bahrain has at all times thought of Saudi Arabia as a giant brother who stands by them in tough instances.

Mr. Abdulla added, “There’s extra coordination than many individuals suppose between Bahrain, Saudi Arabia” and different Gulf states.

The main Saudis have additionally made statements about Israel and Palestine that might solely have been unthinkable till just lately. In 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed made headlines when he asserted that The Israelis have the right to their own land. Two years later, one other Saudi prince, Bandar bin Sultan, criticized the Palestinian management as atypical Palestinians failing.

Saudi cinemas are at the moment exhibiting a function movie, “Demise on the Nile”, starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who has been extensively criticized within the Arab world. for publicly supporting Israel’s navy motion in Gaza.

Relations are additionally warming between Israel and two Arab states with which they beforehand made an uneasy peace, Egypt and Jordan.

President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi of Egypt drew consideration in Israel on Monday when he publicly greeted the visiting Israeli authorities minister, Karine Elharrar, in entrance of lots of of different Arab dignitaries. .

But when ties between governments are strengthening, public sentiment within the Arab world is lagging.

The ballot reveals {that a} majority of Arabs don’t assist the current diplomatic thaw with Israel. In Bahrain, the place dissent is rigorously managed, pictures and movies posted on social media on Tuesday confirmed small teams protesting towards the Bahraini and Israeli governments.

Worldwide rights watchdogs say Bahrain has no free information media and that Its judges are appointed by the royal family. The Khalifa household is a Sunni Muslim dynasty that has dominated Bahrain since 1783, presiding over a predominantly Shia citizenry, whose members say they endure systematic sectarian discrimination.

Bahraini rights activists in exile word that Mr. Bennett’s go to falls on the eleventh anniversary of the 2011 rebellion, they usually name it a betrayal of the Palestinian nationalist motion and endorsement of the Palestinian nationalist motion. into Israel’s insurance policies towards this motion.

“It looks like a damned insult,” mentioned Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, advocacy director on the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, a London-based advocacy group. “That is crucial day in Bahrain’s current historical past, when Bahrainis stood as much as autocracy – and 11 years later, they invited the pinnacle of a racist state.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/15/world/middleeast/israel-bahrain-naftali-bennett.html Israeli chief, Naftali Bennett, Meets Bahrain Counterpart, Signaling Regional Shift

Fry Electronics Team

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