Aliza Bin Noun, political director at Israel’s Foreign Ministry, arrived in Bahrain on Monday for talks on strengthening bilateral ties between the Abraham Accords partners.
On Tuesday, Bin Noun met with Sheikh Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, the Bahrain Foreign Affairs Ministry’s undersecretary for Political Affairs, posting to Twitter after the meeting that “Israel is committed to developing our cooperation with Bahrain in the spirit of the Abraham accords.”
The Gulf Arab state normalized relations with Israel in 2020 in a deal brokered by the United States that also saw the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan establish diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.
Also on Tuesday, Bin Noun met with Bahrain’s Cabinet Affairs Minister Hamad bin Faisal Al Maliki. On Monday, she met with Alsadig Omer Khalafalla, president of the Bahrain American Council.
The visit comes as Jerusalem and Manama move closer to signing a free-trade agreement.
Israel’s Ambassador to Bahrain Eitan Na’eh told JNS earlier this month that “there is a potential here to widen our connections not only with Bahrain but to the Arab Gulf states. Bahrain can be the point of connection between East and West.”
Na’eh said the two countries would soon sign a free-trade agreement and an investment protection accord.
The date and venue of the signing have not been finalized, although Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat is due to visit Bahrain in the coming months.
Last year, Israel forged a free-trade agreement with the UAE, its first with an Arab country, which officials estimate will increase annual trade from $1.2 billion to $10 billion over the next five years.
In another sign of increasing business ties between Bahrain and Israel, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday that Talal Al Zain, the former CEO of Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, has joined Israeli firm Exigent Capital Group.
Al Zain was named chief investment officer and will head the firm’s new office in Manama.
The firm plans to invest $500 million in the Middle East and North Africa over the next two years with a focus on health care, food security, energy, water and education.