An Israeli delegation of senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry landed in Bahrain on Wednesday to negotiate bilateral ties between the countries, a government source confirmed.
The talks come the week after the two countries signed a one-page peace declaration, and less than two weeks after they announced normalization between them, mediated by the US.
Prime Minister’s Office acting director-general Ronen Peretz and Foreign Ministry director-general Alon Ushpiz led the delegation to Manama, Walla News reported.
The delegation’s Israir flight went over Saudi airspace, less than a month after Saudi Arabia said it would allow flyovers for any direct flights – including from Israeli airlines – to and from the United Arab Emirates.
The group left on Wednesday morning and is expected to return to Israel on Wednesday night, after which it will enter quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The goal of Wednesday’s talks is to map out the different areas that will be part of a broader peace agreement between Israel and Bahrain, which will be modeled on the seven-page agreement between Israel and the UAE.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa agreed to have the Israelis go to Bahrain in a phone call on Tuesday, the first of its kind to be made public.
Netanyahu characterized the conversation as “extraordinary” and “very friendly.”
“We repeated the principles of the Abraham Accords and talked about how we are quickly adding content to the agreements between Bahrain and Israel and turning this peace [into] economic peace, technological peace, tourism peace, peace in every one of these areas – and you will hear about practical steps very soon,” Netanyahu said in his message to the public following the calls.
The “Declaration of Peace, Cooperation, and Constructive Diplomatic and Friendly Relations” between Israel and Bahrain signed by Netanyahu and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani last week is only one page long, and states that they agree to establish full diplomatic relations and work together on security, while advancing peace and coexistence.
The document Netanyahu and Zayani signed says that they will draw up agreements in the coming weeks on investments, tourism, direct flights, telecommunications, technology, energy, healthcare, culture, the environment and more, in addition to the reciprocal opening of embassies.
The agreements do not mention a Palestinian state – though they do call for a just solution for the Palestinians – nor do they mention settlements.
Meanwhile, Israel and Bahrain took a practical step toward normalization, with Bahraini Communications Minister Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed opening the country’s phone lines to calls from Israel at the request of his Israeli counterpart, Yoaz Hendel.
The country codes for the UAE, Israel and Bahrain are 971, 972 and 973, respectively.
In addition, Bahraini cellular service carriers contacted Israeli companies in order to work on roaming agreements.
Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan met with the UAE's Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh for the first time.
They discussed ways to expand the circle of peace in the Middle East and decided to work together at the UN on fighting coronavirus, extremism and incitement on social media, as well as female empowerment, environmental protection and more.
Erdan also invited Nusseibeh, whose father was born in Jerusalem and is an adviser to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, to visit Israel.
Also Thursday, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and his Emirati counterpart Suhail al-Mazrouei held a video call to discuss ways to cooperate, with an emphasis on the renewable energy sector, Emirates News Agency reported.
Israel’s new ambassador in Cairo, Amira Oron, presented her credentials to Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on Wednesday.
“Egypt set the example” for peace treaties with Arab states, Oron told KAN. “If not for Egypt, we would not have reached where we are today. It shows that [Egypt’s] direction of abandoning war and violence is the right way.”
The ambassador added that she hopes the Palestinians would return to the negotiating table following the latest regional developments.President Reuven Rivlin wished Oron "great success," saying that he is "sure that her important mission will strengthen the key relations between Israel and Egypt and between our two peoples."