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Wednesday Nov 25 2020

Israel's Netanyahu to visit Bahrain soon


Israel's premier Benjamin Netanyahu will soon visit Bahrain at an invitation of the Gulf state’s Crown Prince Salman al-Khalifa.

“We are both excited to bring the fruits of peace to our people and countries in such a short time. That’s why he (al-Khalifa) invited me to come soon for a formal visit in Bahrain and I will do this happily,” Netanyahu said in a statement about a phone call he held with the crown prince.

After the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain was second in Arab state to normalise ties with Israel in a deal brokered by the United States that marked a strategic Middle East alignment against Iran. A first Bahraini delegation visited Israel last Wednesday.

The shift has enraged the Palestinians who have demanded statehood before any such regional rapprochement.

Read more: Saudi Arabia rejects reports of Crown Prince MBS meeting Netanyahu

Earlier this week, an Israeli official and local media claimed Netanyahu had secretly traveled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Sunday for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader.

However, KSA Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud denied such talks took place. Netanyahu did not confirm or deny the reports.

Since September, the Trump administration has brokered agreements with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan toward normalising their relations with Israel. An Israeli delegation traveled to Sudan on Monday.

Although White House officials have said more countries are considering normalising ties with Israel, further developments appear unlikely before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20 and establishes his administration’s policy on Iran.

Biden has said he would rejoin the nuclear accord that world powers signed with Iran if it first resumed strict compliance with the deal, and would work with allies to strengthen its terms.