Photo Credit: Haim Zach / GPO
Israeli National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, and Bahraini Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani sign a joint communique on the establishment of diplomatic, peaceful and friendly relations and eight MOUs. October 18, 2020, in Manama, Bahrain

Israel and Bahrain ended the first day of talks in Manama with a formal declaration of full diplomatic ties at an official ceremony at the capital. Officials from both nations signed seven bilateral agreements, and a joint communiqué.

The talks between the two countries are being held under the auspices of US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who is leading the American delegation which includes Special Representative for International Negotiations, Avi Berkowitz and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

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The Israeli delegation is led by National Security Adviser and National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat, who signed the joint communiqué on the “establishment of diplomatic, peaceful and friendly relations between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Israel.”

At the signing ceremony, the director generals of the relevant ministries also signed the following memorandums of understanding (MOUs) between the two countries:

1. Economic cooperation: Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the State of Israel and the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain on Economic and Trade Cooperation

2. Civil aviation: Memorandum of Understanding on Civil Aviation between the Delegation of the Government of the State of Israel and the Delegation of the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain. (This includes an agreement for 28 weekly direct flights between Ben Gurion International Airport, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.)

3. Cooperation between the ministries of finance: Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Finance of the State of Israel and the Ministry of Finance of the Kingdom of Bahrain

4. Communications and post: Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the State of Israel and the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain on Cooperation in the Fields of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Postal Services

5. Agriculture: Joint Declaration on Cooperation in the Field of Agriculture between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the State of Israel and the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning of the Kingdom of Bahrain

6. Cooperation between the ministries of foreign affairs: Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kingdom of Bahrain on Bilateral Cooperation

7. Exemption of visa requirements for diplomats: Agreement between the Government of the State of Israel and the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain and on the Exemption of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic, Special or Service Passports

8. Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between the Chambers of Commerce in the two countries.

This was the second such event to take place in as many weeks, but only the fourth such agreement between Israel and an Arab nation in the past 25 years.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by telephone with Bahraini Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin ahead of the signing of the eight memorandums of understanding between the two nations and the joint communique tying it all together.

The prime minister welcomed the signing and said the two nations are making “giant steps toward peace.” He also welcomed the first flight from Israel to Bahrain, saying it was a “continuing of the breakthrough toward peace.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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