From left, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Bahrain's foreign affairs minister; Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister; and Donald Trump, theUS President outside the White House in Washington, DC, the US, September 15 2020. Picture: YURI GRIPAS/ABACA/BLOOMBERG
From left, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Bahrain's foreign affairs minister; Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister; and Donald Trump, theUS President outside the White House in Washington, DC, the US, September 15 2020. Picture: YURI GRIPAS/ABACA/BLOOMBERG

Jerusalem/Dubai — Bahrain sent its first official government delegation to Israel on Wednesday as the two countries look to broaden co-operation that Washington has promoted as an anti-Iran alliance and potential economic bonanza.

Bahrain’s foreign minister Abdullatif Al-Zayani headed the delegation aboard Gulf Air flight GF972 — a reference to Israel’s telephone country code — on the airline’s first commercial flight to Tel Aviv.

Al-Zayani is due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem.

Israel’s foreign ministry director-general Alon Ushpiz told Israeli Army Radio that the officials would continue work on memorandums of understanding signed in October in Manama covering air travel, visa accommodations and the opening of embassies.

Leading the US delegates, President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz was also on the flight which flew over Saudi Arabia, an accommodation by the Gulf’s powerhouse, which has so far resisted US appeals to normalise ties with Israel.

Since September, the Trump administration has brokered agreements with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan towards normalising their relations with Israel in a strategic realignment against Iran.

The shift has enraged the Palestinians who have demanded statehood before any such regional rapprochement.

Although White House officials have said more countries are considering normalising ties with Israel, further developments appear unlikely before US president-elect Joe Biden takes office and establishes his administration’s policy on Iran.

Reuters

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