Bahrain’s FM Sheikh Khalid al-Khalifah, his Israeli counterpart Israel Katz held their first open and public meeting in US on sidelines of Advance Religious Freedom conference on Wednesday.
In a tweet, Katz announced: “I met publicly with the foreign minister of Bahrain,” and added that he “will continue to work with @IsraeliPM to advance Israel’s relations with the Gulf countries”.
According to a statement released by Israel’s foreign ministry yesterday, the meeting was “coordinated behind the scenes by the US State Department as part of a conference on religious liberty organized in Washington by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.”
The meeting comes amid increasing Arab normalisation with Israel and the gradual build-up of relations with regard to trade, energy, intelligence, and technology.
The majority of Arab countries do not officially recognise the Jewish state and publicly oppose its occupation of the Palestinian territories, with Jordan and Egypt being the only exceptions.
Despite their official policy, over the past few years there have emerged numerous revelations of secret meetings between Israeli officials and those from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in particular.
Reports of secret visits to Israel undertaken by members of Gulf monarchies, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman. The UAE was also recently discovered to have had two decades of secret relations with the country.
In June, a conference was held in Bahrain’s capital Manama in which the economic aspects of the US’ peace deal for the region dubbed the “deal of the century” was presented to an audience of journalists, businessmen and some Arab states. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt were among those who attended the workshop.
A recent poll has revealed that approximately 80 per cent of Palestinians feels betrayed by their Arab neighbours.