Foreign Minister Yair Lapid landed in Bahrain on Thursday on the first highest-level official Israeli visit to the Gulf state since the countries established formal relations last year.
The top Israeli diplomat, who landed at Bahrain's international airport in an Israir plane with an olive branch painted on its nose, will inaugurate Israel's embassy in Manama and hold talks with his Bahraini counterpart Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson said five memorandums of understanding will be signed, including cooperation agreements between hospitals and water and power companies.
"The main areas in which Bahrain is looking for cooperation have to do with the economy and technology, and a few of the MOU's that will be signed (on Thursday) will be about that," the spokesperson said, without elaborating.
He said 12 memorandums of understanding have been signed so far between the two countries, among them deals relating to transportation, agriculture, communication and finance.
Bahrain's Gulf Air was due to make its first direct commercial flight to Tel Aviv later in the day.
However, anger simmers in some quarters over the move, which broke with decades of Arab consensus that there would be no relations with Israel while the Palestinian question remains unresolved.
Protesters burned tires on the outskirts of Manama early Thursday, sending clouds of black smoke into the air, and the hashtag #BahrainRejectsZionists in Arabic was circulating on social media.
Extra security was stationed on the route to the airport and no Israeli flags were visible on main roads. Opposition activists have called for further protests later on Thursday.
Bahrain and Gulf neighbor the United Arab Emirates normalized relations with Israel in a U.S.-brokered deal known as the Abraham Accords that built on shared business interests and worries about Iran.
"We see Bahrain as an important partner, on the bilateral level but also as a bridge to cooperate with other countries in the region," the spokesperson said.
First published: 10:18, 09.30.21