Israel’s Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, embarked on a historic visit to Bahrain on September 4, 2023, marking his first visit to one of the two Gulf Arab states that established diplomatic ties with Israel. During the visit, Cohen and his Bahraini counterpart, Abdullatif Al Zayani, reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening bilateral relations, particularly in the realm of trade and economic cooperation. The visit culminated in a ceremony inaugurating Israel’s new embassy in the capital city of Manama. This embassy will replace the first Israeli embassy established in Bahrain in 2021, a year after both nations formalized diplomatic relations as part of the Abraham Accords brokered by the United States. Under the Accords, Israel also established diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.
Speaking at the embassy’s inauguration ceremony, Minister Eli Cohen stated, “The foreign minister and I agreed that we should work together to increase the number of direct flights, the tourism, the trade volume, and the investment. This declaration underscores the shared commitment of Israel and Bahrain to enhance their trade relations and further deepen their diplomatic ties. Foreign Minister Al Zayani echoed Cohen’s sentiments, emphasizing the importance of this historic moment. “As we build into deeper diplomatic endeavours and engage in bilateral cooperation across various sectors, the establishment of this new embassy assumes a pivotal role in our collaboration,” he stated during the ceremony.
Cohen’s visit to Bahrain also included discussions with Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, during which they explored the significance of advancing a free trade agreement and fostering projects that connect the youth of Israel and Bahrain. Cohen expressed optimism about expanding the circle of peace and normalization to other states in the region, highlighting the potential for greater stability and prosperity in the Middle East. Accompanying Cohen on his visit was a business delegation comprising more than 30 companies specializing in high-tech, logistics, and real estate. This delegation represents Israel’s commitment to fostering economic ties with Bahrain and the broader Gulf region.
In addition to the diplomatic and economic discussions, Cohen visited the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet base in Bahrain, where he engaged in talks regarding maritime security cooperation. The United States Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) released a statement in which Vice Admiral Brad Cooper emphasized the significance of the visit, stating that it “underscores our expanding partnership with Israel.” The visit of Israel’s Foreign Minister to Bahrain signifies a growing trend of cooperation and normalization in the region as nations work together to promote peace, stability, and prosperity. The establishment of Israel’s new embassy in Manama represents another milestone in the evolving diplomatic landscape of the Middle East, offering hope for continued collaboration and progress in the years ahead.