(March 9, 2023 / JNS) An Israeli parliamentary delegation is traveling to Bahrain on Thursday.
It is the first such group of lawmakers flying to the Arab state since the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords normalized relations between Jerusalem and Manama in September 2020.
The group is being led by Likud MK Danny Danon, who served as ambassador to the United Nations from October 2015 to May 2020. Also making the trip east is Likud MK Dan Illouz and opposition MKs Yifat Shasha-Biton of the National Unity Party and Elazar Stern of Yesh Atid.
While in Bahrain, the four lawmakers will participate in a conference of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)—the largest inter-parliamentary organization in the world with 179 member national parliaments, including the Knesset, as well as 13 regional parliaments as associate members.
“The IPU is the parliament of parliaments. We are going there to represent Israel and promote the issues that are important to Israel. The main challenge of the delegation will be to influence more countries to join the sanctions on Iran,” Danon told Israel Hayom’s Hebrew-language site.
“The timing of the trip is very challenging, at a time when the diplomatic pressure of the Palestinian Authority is breaking new records that harm the image of the State of Israel,” Danon continued. “But I am confident that with proper work we will be able to bring significant achievements to the State of Israel through the IPU.”
Ramadan and the surrounding tensions at the Temple Mount and elsewhere are expected to be a topic of discussion for the delegation as well, with the group expected to say that Israel is going to great lengths to reduce tensions ahead of the holiday that will begin on March 22 or 23.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday thanked Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq Al Said for opening his country’s airspace to Israeli civilian flights.
Muscat announced the move in February following months of talks between the Israeli Foreign Ministry and authorities in Oman, and after Saudi Arabia last July announced during Biden’s visit to Israel the opening of its airspace to “all carriers,” paving the way for Israeli commercial airlines to overfly the kingdom.
The Saudi move had hitherto proved largely symbolic, as shortening flight times between Israel and countries such as India and China required a similar authorization from Oman.
Neither Oman nor Saudi Arabia has signed onto the Abraham Accords, the Trump administration-brokered agreements that have normalized Israel’s relations with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan.
However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that he was actively courting Riyadh in an effort to persuade it to join in the accords as that would constitute a “quantum leap” towards regional peace.
“Obviously, the next step could be not just another country but a quantum leap in expanding the circle of peace, and I’m talking of course about peace with Saudi Arabia,” said Netanyahu. “I think that if we can achieve this, maybe through gradual steps, maybe it will take some normalization steps, it will change Israel’s relationship with the rest of the Arab world.”
According to reports, Israel is currently working to expand the Abraham Accords to four additional nations—Mauritania, Somalia, Niger and Indonesia.
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