Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday met with the King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain. during his first visit to the Gulf nation and the first time the King met publicly with an Israeli minister.
This was the first visit of an Israeli minister to the kingdom and the first time the king met publicly with a minister from Israel.
"His Majesty's leadership and inspiration have led to true cooperation and our meeting outlined the path forward for our relationship," Lapid said on Twitter after meeting the king.
Lapid's historic visit comes almost a year after Bahrain and Gulf neighbor United Arab Emirates normalized relations with Israel the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords. Sudan and Morocco followed suit.
The Foreign Minister landed at Bahrain's international airport on board an Israir flight with an olive branch painted on it.
He met with Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, as well as his Bahraini counterpart, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, who had met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in New York earlier this week.
Lapid told his Bahraini counterpart that though he himself supports a two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict, not all of the Israeli government agrees.
"Israelis pursue peace," Lapid said, "and do not want conflict with anyone. We are committed to peace."
During his one day visit, Lapid will inaugurate the Israeli embassy in Bahraini capital of Manama. He will return to Israel later on Thursday.
"We see Bahrain as an important partner, on the bilateral level but also as a bridge for cooperation with other countries in the region," an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.
The Foreign Ministry added that five memorandums of understanding will be signed in the course of the visit, including cooperation agreements between hospitals and water and power companies.
In Gaza, the Islamist Hamas criticized Bahrain for hosting the Israeli minister. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the visit represented "an encouragement" of what he described as Israeli "crimes against our Palestinian people and their sacred sites".
The accords themselves have also been criticized by Bahraini opposition figures, speaking largely from abroad, as well as locals who stand against normalization with Israel.
First published: 17:51, 09.30.21