Israeli prime minister lands in Bahrain for first official visit

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is scheduled to meet with Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, government ministers and representatives of the kingdom’s Jewish community.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks to reporters before departing for Bahrain on Feb. 14, 2022. Credit: Haim Tzach/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks to reporters before departing for Bahrain on Feb. 14, 2022. Credit: Haim Tzach/GPO.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett landed in Bahrain on Monday evening, representing the first official visit by an Israeli prime minister to the kingdom.

Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa invited Bennett to visit when the two leaders first met, at the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November.

“I’m going to meet the king, I’m going to meet the crown prince and have a series of meetings whose goal is to fill—with energy and content—the peace agreement between the two nations,” Bennett said at Bahrain International Airport. “I think especially in these tumultuous times it’s important that from this region we send a message of goodwill, of cooperation, of standing together against common challenges and of building bridges to the future.”

During the visit, the leaders will discuss diplomatic and economic issues, with an emphasis on technology and innovation, as well as additional ways to strengthen bilateral ties, according to the statement.

Bennett is also scheduled to meet with the kingdom’s ministers of finance, industry and transportation, as well as with representatives of the local Jewish community.

Military ties between the two countries have also been strengthening.

On Feb. 2, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz also made his first official visit to Bahrain, heading a senior IDF delegation that included the commander of the Israeli Navy, Vice Adm. David Saar Salama; Military Secretary to the Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Yaki Dolf; and Zohar Palti, director of the policy and political-military bureau.

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Central Command, told Israel’s Makor Rishon on Feb. 3 that the importance of the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain lay in strengthening military ties between the kingdom and Israel.

Cooper cited the Abraham Accords and the transfer of Israel from the U.S. military’s EUCOM (European Command) to CENTCOM (Central Command, responsible for the Middle East region) as two new factors that could be leveraged to further strengthen regional naval security.

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