Bennett in Bahrain, vows to help Arab allies 'fight Iran'

Bennett in Bahrain, vows to help Arab allies 'fight Iran'
Bennett's visit to Bahrain seems to be mostly about Iran. The Israeli PM has been actively lobbying against reviving any deal with Iran over its nuclear program.
2 min read
15 February, 2022
This is the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister to Bahrain. [Israeli Goverment Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has pledged to help Israel's Arab allies fight off Iran during his first visit to Bahrain, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.

Bennett landed in Manama on Monday, marking the first visit of an Israeli Prime Minister to Bahrain. It follows one by the Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in September 2021 to open the first Israeli embassy in the country.

Bennett's visit has so far focused largely on security. The Israeli leader stressed the two countries' shared interest in fighting Iran and its proxies in the region.

"Iran undermines stability in the entire region," Bennett told the Bahraini daily Alayam.

"We won't allow it," he added. "We fight Iran and its proxies every day, and we will help our friends in strengthening peace, security and stability."

Bahrain was among a handful of Arab states that normalised relations with Israel in a controversial deal, along with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan.

Israel has already signalled it intends to reap the economic benefits of normalisation. 

"I expect trade between (our countries) to increase significantly, as it has with the Emirates," Bennett said.

"I expect tourism to grow, obviously after the coronavirus is gone, and most of all, I aspire for both peoples to get to know each other better."

Israel has been campaigning for months against any rapprochement with Iran as talks between world powers and Tehran drag on in Vienna to revive a 2015 agreement that was supposed to prevent Iran from acquiring an atomic bomb. 

The Bahraini Undersecretary for International Relations has also slammed the Vienna talks during his own visit to Israel in August, saying the 2015 deal with Iran had fuelled crises in the Middle East.

The deal collapsed in 2018 when the US, led by then-president Donald Trump, pulled out unilaterally and re-imposed tough economic sanctions on Iran. The eighth round of discussions started last week but little progress has been reached so far.