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Bahrain, Israel normalize ties: Seven events that led to the deal

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Bahrain and Israel will sign a historic agreement of normalization on Tuesday, but in the last three years, the countries have interacted in various ways – from interfaith trips to security conferences.

Here are seven events that paved the way to Tuesday’s landmark moment:

December 2017: Interfaith group from Bahrain visits Israel

An interfaith group from Bahrain traveled to Israel for a three-day visit on December 12, 2017.

The 25 participants included Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists, according to The Associated Press, which reported that half of the group were Bahraini citizens.

Bahrain News Agency (BNA) said at the time that the group did not “represent any official entity” in the country.

February 2018: American Jewish community visits Bahrain

A New York-based Jewish community group traveled to Bahrain on February 25, 2018, at the invitation of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Rabbi Marc Schneier led the community, and he was later appointed special advisor by the King of Bahrain to the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence.

“We visited the synagogue in Manama and the Jewish cemetery,” Schneier told Al Arabiya English.

The group met with Bahrain’s indigenous Jewish community including former Bahraini ambassador to the US Houda Nonoo, parliament member Nancy Khedouri, and community leader Michael Yadgar.

November 2018: Israeli minister invited to conference in Manama

During a radio interview, Israel’s then-Economy Minister Eli Cohen said he had received a “personal invitation” to a 2019 technology conference, titled Startup Nations Ministerial conference, in Bahrain’s capital city Manama.

June 2019: Bahrain hosts the White House Peace to Prosperity conference

Last year Bahrain hosted the White House’s Peace to Prosperity workshop in Manama, where the Trump administration rolled out its $50 billion Middle East economic plan and proposals to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The White House did not invite Israeli officials to the event, but Israeli journalists, who were invited to cover the conference, interviewed Bahrain’s then-foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.

July 2019: Bahraini and Israeli foreign ministers meet in Washington, DC

Al Khalifa and Israel’s then-Foreign Minister Israel Katz met publicly for the first time in Washington, DC at a US State Department event on religious freedom.

A photo of the two officials was shared by the State Department.

Katz later said in a tweet that he discussed Iran and regional threats with Al Khalifa.

October 2019: Senior Israeli official attends Bahrain for security conference

Israeli Foreign Ministry Counterterrorism Director Dana Benvenisti attended a maritime security conference in Bahrain on October 21, 2019.

December 2019: Former Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem visits Bahrain

Former Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Amar visited Bahrain on December 9, 2019 to participate in an interfaith forum alongside religious leaders from Kuwait, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 15 September 2020 KSA 13:16 – GMT 10:16