Bahrain foreign minister pays surprise tribute to Israel’s Peres

Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa was criticised by many on social media for his tweet describing the former Israeli president as both "a Man of War and a Man of the still elusive Peace in the Middle East”.

Bahrain's foreign minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa has been criticised for his tribute on Twitter to former Israeli president Shimon Peres. Faisal Al Nasser/Reuters
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Bahrain’s foreign minister paid tribute to Israel’s former president Shimon Peres on Thursday, in a surprise statement that drew strong criticism on social media.

“Rest in Peace President Shimon Peres, a Man of War and a Man of the still elusive Peace in the Middle East,” Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said on Twitter.

The response to his tweet was swift.

Bahrain does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, and for many in the Arab world Peres was a deeply controversial figure, reviled for his role in Israel’s wars against Arab countries and for allowing settlement expansion to continue on occupied Palestinian land.

“The foreign minister is paying tribute and praying for the Zionist terrorist and the killer of children,” complained former opposition lawmaker Jalal Fairooz.

Another critic, Khalil Buhazaa, tweeted: “Diplomacy does not mean rudeness.”

Peres died on Wednesday aged 93 after suffering a major stroke.

He won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his role in negotiating the Oslo accords, which envisioned an independent Palestinian state.

But he is also remembered in the Arab world as the man who ordered the devastating “Grapes of Wrath” operation against Lebanon in 1996, which left 175 people dead, most of them civilians.

* Agence France-Presse