Bahrain and Israel will sign today, Sunday, an agreement to establish full diplomatic relations, at a ceremony to be held in Manama with an American presence, while an Israeli official stated that the signing is the culmination of old secret relations.
A joint Israeli-American delegation left Tel Aviv Airport for the Bahraini capital, Manama, on the first official direct trip between Israel and Bahrain to discuss the terms of the normalization agreement between them.
The Israeli delegation is headed by the head of the National Security Council, Meir Ben Shabat, while the American delegation is headed by the US Secretary of the Treasury, Stephen Mnuchin.
The members of the delegation will travel to Manama on a flight belonging to El Al carrying the number 973, in reference to the international calling code in Bahrain, and the plane will cross Saudi airspace, in order to facilitate the Kingdom.
On Tuesday, the two American officials will accompany the first delegation from the UAE on its visit to Israel.
Mnuchin said that this mission aims at expanded economic cooperation between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE. An official involved in preparing the visit stated that Israel and Bahrain would sign a statement that raises the level of relations from the declaration of intent issued at the White House on September 15 to the formal establishment of relations.
Wella website quoted high-ranking Israeli and American officials as saying that Israel agreed to Bahrain’s request that the normalization and peace agreement not be complete, but rather be interim, beginning with a joint declaration, due to internal criticisms in Bahrain of normalization with Israel.
The website added that the declaration includes the establishment of full diplomatic relations, including the opening of embassies and inter-cooperation in several fields, most notably the promotion of trade, investment, civil aviation, energy, environment, water, science and technology, communications, post, health, agriculture, and judicial cooperation.
The French News Agency quoted an Israeli official as saying that security cooperation between Israel and Bahrain is a central item in the upcoming bilateral talks today.
A report issued by the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence on September 13 said that there are opportunities for defense cooperation with Bahrain, which the report described as being threatened by “Shiite political sedition directed by Iran and those working for it.”
The report said Israel could also help Bahrain in the fields of renewable energy, food security, banking technology and finance.
An Israeli official said that the agreement culminates in 20 years of secret relations between the two countries, according to Hebrew media.
“We are talking about relations that have been under the radar for 20 years, and there is now an opportunity to bring them to light,” the official broadcasting organization quoted an unnamed official as saying.