Netanyahu planning UAE, Bahrain trip for after lockdown

The prime minister’s previous plans to visit Manama and Abu Dhabi did not work out.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu boarding the plane to Athens (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu boarding the plane to Athens
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to visit the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as soon as possible after the current coronavirus lockdown ends, hopefully in late January or early February, a person familiar with the matter said Monday.
If that happens, his trip to the first two countries to join the Abraham Accords will be two months to six weeks ahead of the March 13 election. Netanyahu often highlights his diplomatic skills in Likud’s election campaigns.
Netanyahu’s previous plans to visit Manama and Abu Dhabi did not work out. He originally sought to visit in early December, but the UAE was celebrating its national day and asked him to wait.
Netanyahu then planned to go in late December, but the political situation got in the way, and the Knesset was dissolved.
The delays in Netanyahu’s trip stopped other ministers from traveling to the Gulf states in the months after they established ties with Israel. Protocol dictates that the prime minister or President Reuven Rivlin must be first. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi had to attend a conference in Manama in December virtually, instead of in person, because Netanyahu had not yet been to Bahrain.
It was “premature to discuss travel plans… Once the lockdown is over, it will be possible to resume international flights,” a source in the Prime Minister’s Office said.