What happened: On Monday night Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and invited him to make an official visit.
- Following the call, Netanyahu said: “Both of us are very moved by the fact that we can bring peace to our peoples and our countries in a very short time. Therefore, he also invited me to make an official visit to Bahrain soon.” Advanced talks are now underway for what will be the first public visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu to the Persian Gulf.
- Yesterday, Dr. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, the chairman of the Defence, Interior and Foreign Affairs Committee of the UAE Parliament, held an online conversation with Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee Chairman MK Zvi Hauser, where they also discussed the prime minister’s visit.
- Following the leak that Netanyahu covertly visited Saudi Arabia at the beginning of the week, Likud minister Yoav Gallant told Army Radio: “The very fact the meeting happened, and was outed publicly, even if half-officially right now, is a matter of great importance.” However, Defence Minister Benny Gantz condemned “the irresponsible leak of the secret flight to Saudi Arabia”.
- Also this week, Israel sent its first delegation to Sudan to discuss potential economic and humanitarian cooperation. They focused on agriculture, food security, water supplies and healthcare.
- Yesterday, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lord David Trimble submitted the candidacy of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed for the Nobel Peace Prize.
- This morning Reuters reported Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) will sign a memorandum of understanding with Israel Securities Authority and Israel’s biggest lender, Bank Hapoalim, to support financial technology.
Context: Netanyahu received an invitation to visit the Emirates in talks with UAE Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed over a month ago.
- Netanyahu has made at least two secret trips to the UAE in the past few years, prior to normalisation agreements.
- Last night US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked on Fox News about the meeting he held with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) in Saudi Arabia on Sunday. Pompeo said: “I will leave it to them to discuss what meeting they may or may not have had.”
- Israeli analysts have speculated that Netanyahu and MBS discussed forming a united front against Iran and to present a coordinated position to the Biden administration.
- According to Israel Hayom, “senior Saudi officials who are privy to the details … say that Riyadh considers Israel to be its most important ally with regard to the issue of the Iranian threat”. However, “for the time being, Riyadh intends to maintain the current level of relations with Israel”.
- The paper also reports that MBS showed Netanyahu “a poll that was conducted by a globally renowned pollster indicating that nearly half of all Saudis support normalising relations with Israel”.
Looking ahead: Netanyahu’s travel plans to the Gulf are not yet finalised, though he is expected to travel next week.
- Netanyahu wants to visit Bahrain before Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi travels to Manama to inaugurate the new Israeli embassy at the end of next week.
- Netanyahu has insisted that he would be the first Israeli leader to make these formal visits, after which a slew of Israeli politicians are then expected to make similar trips.
- US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper told Kan News: “There are discussions in more Arab states about normalising relations with Israel all the time … the will to normalise with Israel is something that many countries have.”