(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
On 6 November, the diplomatic advisor to Bahrain’s King Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifa said the kingdom would continue building its relationship with Israel after former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing allies claimed the majority in the Knesset elections.
During Netanyahu’s government in 2020, Israel normalized ties with the UAE and Bahrain, due to fears over Iran’s growing regional influence. The negotiations were mediated and encouraged by the Trump administration in what became known as the Abraham accords.
In remarks to reporters, Al Khalifa said, “We have an agreement with Israel, which is part of the Abraham accords, and we will abide by this deal. We expect it to continue on the same path and build our partnership together.”
“We want to be an example and succeed together as well as face all threats,” said the advisor, in response to a question about a regional multilateral approach to security that includes Israel.
His statements came in parallel with Pope Francis’s visit, on a historic three-day visit to Bahrain. The visit was accompanied by activists’ calls to respect human rights, release prisoners, and end the death penalty against Bahraini Shia activists within the Al-Khalifa monarchy.
“We would like to be sure that we are not going to face any deterioration of security in the region of any kind,” said Sheikh Khaled, whose country hosts the US Fifth Fleet.
When it comes to security concerns over the possibility of an Iranian nuclear program, the gulf states and Israel share a united front and depend on the US for security.
Officials from Israel and Bahrain said on 31 October that the two sides seek to reach a free trade agreement by the end of the year.
While economic cooperation with the UAE has taken off since the signing of the Abraham accords, Israel’s trade with Bahrain lags far behind, with total trade estimated at around $7.5 million.