Opens Israel's Embassy in Manama
The architect of Israel's fledgling unity government continues to blaze a trail—on Thursday, Israel Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with the king and the crown prince/prime minister of Bahrain, their first public meeting with an Israeli official ever.
While Bennett might get a C (average) grade on his short time as prime minister,
Lapid would get an A+ for the effort he has been putting into building and reinforcing relationships with other nations. Lapid is quickly becoming the most powerful foreign minister in Israel's short history—and he could solidify that title if this government lasts. It should be noted that he has much more authority because it was his party, with its 17 seats, that formed the government and allowed Bennett, with only six seats, to serve first as prime minister.
Lapid first sat down with Prime Minister and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa at his palace in Manama, and then he met with Bahraini King Hamid bin Issa al Khalifa at the royal palace.
"The leadership and inspiration of the king has led to real cooperation, and this meeting sets the course for the future of our relations," Lapid said during his meeting with the king. "Thank you for the opportunity to be here today and to take this step together in building our relations in a model of coexistence and cooperation between cultures and faiths."
"We are both tough peoples. We made life flourish in the heart of the desert." And alluding to the mutual threat both countries face—Iran, Lapid said, "Our opportunities are shared. Our threats are also shared, and they aren't far from here."
Lapid started the day with a meeting with his counterpart in Bahrain, Abdullatif Al Zayani. The two men signed agreements for future cooperation between the two nations regarding water, the environment, sports, and more. And they talked of forming economic ties in the future. The issue of the Palestinians also surfaced in their conversation.
Zayani said a two-state solution that is in "the rights, interests, and aspirations of all parties" is of "crucial importance." "Bahrain continues to call on all sides and the international community to achieve this goal."
Lapid said he didn't think a two-state solution was feasible right now (although he says he is "devoted" to a two-state solution), but that he supports improving the living conditions of the Palestinians and "doing no harm."
Later in the day, Israel Foreign Minister Yair Lapid inaugurated the Israeli embassy in Bahrain, another milestone strengthening the growing friendship between the Jewish nation and its Arab neighbors.
Direct flights from Tel Aviv to Manama officially launched Thursday as well. Gulf Air will offer direct flights twice a week between Israel and Bahrain.
Earlier in September, Bahrain's ambassador to Israel, Khalid Youssef al-Jalahmah, presented his credentials to Israeli officials. And Eitan Na'eh, a longtime diplomat and envoy to the United Arab Emirates, was tapped to serve as Israel's ambassador to Bahrain.
Lapid's trip to Bahrain makes the third Arab country he has visited since becoming foreign minister in June. He was also in Morocco and the UAE, countries that have normalized relations with Israel through last year's historic Abraham Accords.