Minister of Foreign Affairs in Bahrain for a historic visit | New
FM Yair Lapid will inaugurate the Israeli embassy in Manama and sign bilateral agreements during the trip, according to a ministry statement.
The Israeli foreign minister has arrived in Bahrain for the highest-level Israeli official visit to the Gulf state since the countries established relations last year.
A statement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry said Yair Lapid, who had been invited by his Bahraini counterpart, would inaugurate the Israeli embassy in Manama on Thursday and would “sign a list of bilateral agreements.”
“This will be the first official visit by an Israeli minister to (Bahrain),” the statement said.
After Lapid landed, Bahrain’s carrier Gulf Air launched its first direct flight between Manama and Tel Aviv.
Following negotiations led by former US President Donald Trump, the United Arab Emirates, quickly followed by Bahrain and Morocco, last year became the first Arab states in decades to normalize relations with Israel.
The accords infuriated the Palestinians, who felt a betrayal of their national cause. They saw it as an abandonment of a long-standing commitment in the Arab world not to normalize relations with Israel until there is progress in resolving the decades-long occupation of Palestinian land. .
Israel had already concluded peace treaties with neighboring Egypt and Jordan.
Protesters burned tires on the outskirts of Manama early Thursday, sending clouds of black smoke into the air, and the hashtag #BahrainRejectsZionists in Arabic circulated on social media.
Additional security was stationed on the road leading to the airport and no Israeli flags were visible on the main roads. Opposition activists called for more protests later Thursday.
Since the signing of the Normalization Agreements, known as the Abraham Accords, ties have widened between Israel and its new Gulf partners, especially with regard to direct flights and economic agreements.
Lapid is the main architect of the Israeli coalition government that toppled former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who signed the Abraham Accords.
Lapid has also visited the United Arab Emirates and Morocco since becoming foreign minister in June.
The Israeli delegation to Bahrain arrived earlier this week and joined the country’s small Jewish community to mark the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah.
Lior Haiat, spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said it was the first time in more than 75 years that the community was able to mark the holiday in their synagogue.
“The fact that we were able to celebrate it yesterday was a very joyful event for us and for the community as well,” he said.