(Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
On 3 December, the newly appointed Foreign Minister of Israel, Eli Cohen, spoke with his Bahraini counterpart, Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, over the necessity of expanding bilateral ties.
The Israeli diplomat disclosed over social media that the two foreign ministers had discussed the developments of several “meaningful projects” that would potentially bolster economic and social relations between Manama and Tel Aviv.
However, on 3 January, Manama voiced its concerns over the Israeli Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s recent provocations during his visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, with Bahrain’s foreign ministry classifying his visit as a “provocation against Muslims and a violation of international law.”
Despite establishing normalization agreements between Israel and several gulf states under the Abraham Accords in 2020, the UAE condemned the Israeli security minister for his recent provocations against the Palestinians.
A few months prior, the UAE’s foreign ministry expressed concern over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to include Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich in his cabinet due to their extremist and anti-Arab rhetoric, adding that their presence may hinder UAE-Israel relations.
Despite warnings from Abu Dhabi, the UAE embassy warmly received Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) chairman, Itamar Ben Gvir, at the UAE’s National Day reception in Tel Aviv on 1 December last year.
Ben Gvir is commonly described as an anti-Arab extremist who controls Israel’s police force, giving him full control over their actions in the occupied West Bank.
Meanwhile, Smotrich is heavily involved in Israel’s illegal settlement movement, striving to expand Israel’s illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories.
Smotrich has also previously incited attacks against Palestinian civilians and once said that teenage Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi “should have been shot.”
On 9 November 2022, Smotrich demanded the annexation of the West Bank during the negotiations to form a new government after the recent Israeli elections.