Diplomacy

Bahrain FM: We Want Peace, Israel Here to Stay

In an exclusive interview with the Times of Israel on the sideline of the U.S.-led economic conference in Manama, Bahrain’s foreign minister said Wednesday that Israel has a right to exist and that the Gulf emirate wants to make peace with the Jewish State.

Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa described the event as a “game-changer” for the region and compared it to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem in 1977, which paved the way to the Camp David Accords and the normalizing of relations between Egypt and Israel.

“We offered it [peace] to Israel. 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 stressed.

“As much as Camp David 1 was a major game-changer, after the visit of President Sadat — if this succeeds, and we build on it, and it attracts attention and momentum, this would be the second game-changer,” he added.

At the opening ceremony in Manama, the Minister openly mixed with Israeli representatives. Among others, he spoke with the Director General of Sheba Medical Center, Prof. Yitshak Kreiss, who told Haaretz, “We were pleasantly surprised by the constructive, inclusive atmosphere looking for shared challenges, and we found all the parties very open to entrepreneurship and future cooperation as soon as possible.”

Khalifa noted that while other Arab states are still hesitant to publicly call for normalization with Israel, “we know our brothers in the region do believe in it” as well.

In October, Oman called for regional recognition of Israel, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a historic visit to the sultanate. In April, the country’s Foreign Minister, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, said that the Arab world must take initiatives to make Israel overcome “fears for its future” as a Jewish State in the Middle East.

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