Despite growing chaos in the Middle East, the Abraham Accords are moving forward. The most recent step strengthens historic ties between Israel and the Gulf State of Bahrain.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid made the first official visit to Bahrain by an Israeli minister since last year’s historic signing at the White House .
“This is an historic moment, and a reminder that history is made by people who know history, people who love and respect history, but are also ready to change and make history,” Lapid said. “History is made by people who prefer the future over the past, who prefer peace over war, who prefer connection over isolation.”
Lapid spoke in the capital city of Manama, to inaugurate the new Israeli embassy and sign agreements with his Bahraini counterpart Foreign Minister Abdullatif al Zayani.
“The official opening of embassies which will symbolize the diplomatic cooperation between us, more cooperation in the fields of tourism and technology, culture, energy and environmental protection,” Lapid said.
Lapid said the two countries share opportunities as well as threats.
“The global battle today isn't between right and left, it's not between Judaism and Islam and Christianity, the global battle today is between moderates and extremists, a culture of life, against a culture of death and destruction. Together with our friends in the Gulf, we are leading a brave coalition of moderates. A coalition that is looking forward and creating a prosperous future of stability and tolerance,” he added.
Lapid and Zayani toured the USS Pearl Harbor landing ship and met with the US vice admiral over naval forces in the region.
Following his meeting with Zayani, Lapid tweeted that Bahrain would open its embassy in Israel by the end of the year.Earlier, he met with the King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa to thank him for leadership and inspiration that led to this day. He also met with the Crown Prince and Prime Minister Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa.
Analysts in Israel and Bahrain also expressed their excitement over the visit.
“This is an historic day. This is not a cliché. The Middle East is changing, and we are learning it every day,” Sagiv Steinberg, Spokesman for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs told reporters during a briefing sponsored by Media Central in Jerusalem.
“We learned it last year with the signing of the Abraham Accords and we learned it just a few weeks ago in Kabul,” Steinberg said.
“I don’t see the Embassy’s opening as just a diplomatic mission, no I see it as Foreign Minister, His Excellency, Yair Lapid’s visit to Bahrain opening the embassy is also the start of the warm relations between the people of both countries,” said Ahdeya Ahmed al-Sayed, a prominent Bahraini journalist and author.
Al-Sayed said even though both countries face Iran as a common enemy, that’s not what brings them together.
“What brought us together is we are a community. This is the Middle East. Embracing each other, coming together also helps you fight a common enemy. We don’t need wars in the region, we need to fight ideologies,” al-Sayed said.
After Lapid’s landing in Manama, a Gulf Air flight departed for Tel Aviv, initiating direct flights between the countries. Greeted with a water salute, the pilot was al-Sayed’s ***husband.***
“He’s quite excited,” she said. “He kept on telling me that ‘I used to always go around Israel but today I will land there.’
“I think the feelings I have today is not because he’s my family and my partner, my husband, but it’s the feeling of any Bahraini who wanted to be on that flight today because this is how warm relations start,” al-Sayed said.
Why does Judaism matter and how is it connected to Christianity? Learn more here.