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Bahrain Foreign Minister: 'The Jewish People Have a Place Among Us', Recognizes Israel's Right to Exist

06-27-2019
Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa/ AP

JERUSALEM, Israel -  Bahrain's foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa said Wednesday that the US-led "Peace to Prosperity" summit in Manama could be a "game changer" and that Bahrain wants peace with Israel. 

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner visited Bahrain this week to present the economic portion of the Trump administration's Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Government officials and business leaders from around the Arab world attended. 

"We see it as very, very important," Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told The Times of Israel

He compared the conference to the Camp David Accords, which led to peace agreements between Egypt and Israel. 

While Khalifa did not commit to normalizing relations with Israel, he said Bahrain recognizes Israel's right to exist and wants peace with the Jewish state. 

"Israel is a country in the region… and it's there to stay," he said. "So we do believe that Israel is a country to stay, and we want better relations with it, and we want peace with it."

Khalifa told Israel's Channel 13 that Bahrain is open to talks with Israel.

"The Jewish people have a place among us. So communication needs to be a prerequisite for solving all the dispute. We should talk."

The foreign minister took a more cautious tone when addressing Trump's peace plan, which has yet to be released in its entirety.

"We have to wait. I cannot talk about something that I don't know. But we hope that this political plan will also be attractive to everybody," he said. "Look at the workshop. It's very attractive. You don't want to give an attractive offer and then come and bring something that could stall it. We want to see it continue on the same momentum. So we'll see it."

The conference ended Wednesday evening and time will tell if it was effective in winning over the Arab states. 

It coincided with two other diplomatic visits by US officials in the Middle East focusing on tensions with Iran. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the Gulf states to discuss Iran's recent actions. 

National Security Adviser John Bolton was in Jerusalem to meet with Israeli and Russia leaders about curbing Iran's influence in Syria. 

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