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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 not too long ago political reorganization of the Middle East.

Mr Bennett is anticipated to satisfy 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 positioned Gulf state.

Earlier than assembly the royal household, Mr. Bennett met with members of Bahrain’s small Jewish neighborhood. Mr. Bennett gave them a rifle, the Jewish musical horn.

“I’m delighted to be right here in Bahrain, and I can not consider a greater strategy to begin this go to than seeing my household in Bahrain once more,” he mentioned. “You all actually are a household. I come from Israel with goodwill, with a heat friendship between the 2 peoples, and I’m certain you could be a exceptional bridge between Bahrain and Israel.”

Mr. Bennett’s journey to Bahrain, the first official visit of an Israeli prime minister to the countryexhibits 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 aircraft to the crimson carpet lined by an honor guard, a salute that highlights how priorities have modified for a number of nations 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 better significance than Palestinian sovereignty, particularly Iran accelerates nuclear enrichment.

Bahrain, additionally a US ally and residential to the US Navy’s fifth Fleet, will host an Israeli army officer for the primary time as a part of a regional coalition, 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 position within the area, essentially the most influential nation within the Arab world and a significant rival to Iran.

Formally, Saudi officers deny that the dominion plans to comply with 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 help 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-about Saudi Arabia as an enormous brother who stands by them in tough occasions.

Mr. Abdulla added, “There may be extra coordination than many individuals assume 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 not too long ago. 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 peculiar Palestinians failing.

Saudi cinemas are at the moment exhibiting a characteristic movie, “Loss of life on the Nile”, starring Israeli actress, Gal Gadot, who shouldn’t be well-known within the Arab world for being brazenly help Israel’s army 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 tons of of different Arab dignitaries. .

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

The ballot exhibits {that a} majority of Arabs don’t help the latest diplomatic thaw in Israel. In Bahrain, the place dissent is fastidiously managed, photographs 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 be aware that Mr. Bennett’s go to falls on the eleventh anniversary of the 2011 rebellion, and so they 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 seems 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 latest 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-official-visit.html Israeli chief, Naftali Bennett, Meets Bahrain Counterpart, Signaling Regional Shift

Fry Electronics Team

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