Bahrain's King Hamad meets Israeli President Herzog in historic first visit

The leaders discussed the need for 'sustainable peace' in the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict

Bahrain's King Hamad receives Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Manama. AFP
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King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain met with Israeli President Isaad Herzog on Sunday, in the first visit by an Israeli president to the Gulf kingdom.

Both countries normalised relations in 2020 under the Abraham Accords, a series of agreements between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE, and later Morocco, intended to enhance peace and regional security.

In March, the countries were joined by Egypt at the Negev summit, which discussed ways to enhance co-operation in a number of sectors. Israel and the UAE say their bilateral trade could reach $10 billion in the next five years, after signing a historic free trade deal in June.

Bahrain and Israel are also in the process of negotiating a free trade agreement.

Further agreements, between Israel, Egypt, the UAE and Jordan, were finalised at the Cop27 summit in Sharm El Sheikh last month, encompassing seawater desalination and green energy.

King Hamad said that Bahrain supports "achieving a just, comprehensive and sustainable peace that guarantees the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and that will lead to stability, development and prosperity for both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, as well as all peoples of the region," the Bahrain News Agency said.

Mr Herzog said on Twitter he welcomed King Hamad's "vision of peace, friendship and tolerance".

"My visit underscores the importance Israel attaches to relations with Bahrain, including partnerships on defence, trade, tourism and environment," he said.

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid, then Israel's top diplomat, visited Bahrain in September last year to open the Israeli embassy there.

In February, Israel signed a defence agreement with Bahrain and Naftali Bennett became the first Israeli premier to visit the country.

Mr Herzog said on Sunday he would follow his stop in Bahrain with a visit to Abu Dhabi.

Updated: December 04, 2022, 5:32 PM