Israeli foreign minister in Bahrain for official talks

Israeli foreign minister in Bahrain for official talks
2 min read
04 September, 2023
Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen has visited Bahrain for his first official visit amid growing speculation about an Israel-Saudi normalisation deal
Eli Cohen (right) met his Bahraini counterpart Abdellatif bin Rashid al-Zayani [Getty]

Israel's foreign minister arrived in Bahrain on Sunday for talks with senior officials, state media reported, in his first visit to one of the Gulf Arab states with ties to Israel.

Eli Cohen was accompanied by a political and commercial delegation, and is scheduled to meet Bahrain's king as well as his counterpart in Manama during the two-day trip.

It is his first official visit to one of the signatories of the 2020 US-brokered Abraham Accords, which saw Israel normalise relations with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.

Cohen's trip comes less than two weeks before the third anniversary of the accords in mid-September.

Despite now having steady ties, Bahrain and the UAE have joined other Gulf Arab states in issuing a series of condemnations against Israel this year.

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The storming of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and raids by Israeli forces on the city of Nablus and the Palestinian camp of Jenin in the occupied West Bank were among the Israeli moves that sparked a Gulf outcry.

Cohen's trip coincides with growing speculation about an impending normalisation deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which is not a signatory to the Abraham Accords.

Riyadh and Washington have held talks on Saudi conditions for progress on normalisation, according to people briefed on the meetings.

Israeli press commentators suggested such efforts have been severely compromised on the back of Israel's announcement of a meeting last month between Cohen and his then Libyan counterpart in Rome.

The announcement sparked protests in Libya, which does not recognise Israel, and led to the dismissal of Najla al-Mangoush as foreign minister.

Israel later denied that it had been the source of the announcement.