Bahrain becomes first Gulf council country to host Israeli Independence Day

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Bahrain becomes first Gulf council country to host Israeli Independence Day

Ties with Israel come two weeks after inter-faith conference including Jews in Saudi Arabia - and the day after Iraq banned contacts with Israelis, on pain of death

Left to right: Ambassador Dr. Sheikh Abdallah bin Ahmad Al Khalifa (Undersecretary in Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry), Ambassador Eitan Na'eh, Ambassador Steve Bondy (US Ambassador to Bahrain)
Left to right: Ambassador Dr. Sheikh Abdallah bin Ahmad Al Khalifa (Undersecretary in Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry), Ambassador Eitan Na'eh, Ambassador Steve Bondy (US Ambassador to Bahrain)

Bahrain has become the first Gulf Co-operation Council country to officially mark Israeli Independence Day, 74 years after it happened.

That also makes it the Abraham Accords country to mark Yom Ha’atzmaut and the first in the Persian Gulf.

The Israeli Embassy in Manama on Thursday evening hosted a reception for the anniverary, attended by hundreds of Bahrainis, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The event was attended by more than 300 people representing all branches of Bahrain’s government including the military, as well as the private sector.

Guests included Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdulla bin Ahmed bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, US Fifth Fleet Commander Brad Cooper and US Ambassador to Bahrain Steven C. Bondy.

There was also a performance by Israeli actor and singer Tzachi Halevy, who made his name on the Israeli series of The Voice and as an actor in political-thriller television series Fauda.

There was a recorded message from Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and a speech by Ambassador Al Khalifa.

Israeli Ambassador to Bahrain, Eitan Na’eh, who arrived in November 2021, said: “The presence of all the guests here today symbolizes the scope and depth of ties between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain.

“Our Yom Haatzmaut reception shows the authentic, warm and genuine relationship between Israel and Bahrain – its leadership and people.

“The new Middle East is built upon a shared desire to cooperate in all areas from security to sustainable energy, water and food security to tourism and other areas.”

In his speech, Na’eh spoke about the vision shared by both governments regarding the opportunities for both nations and highlighted the economic activity between the two nations as well as investments and

Heads of major companies from Israel’s oil and gas, cyber, manufacturing, fintech, high-tech, pharmaceutical/biotech and logistics sectors were in attendance. Na’eh spoke of the joint ventures projected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars within the next few years.

The Bahraini Interior Ministry’s band played the Israeli and Bahraini national anthems. 

A special menu for the evening had a fusion of Bahraini and Israeli dishes.

Israel established diplomatic relations with Bahrain in 2020 as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords that also initially included the United Arab Emirates, with the later additions of Morocco and Sudan.

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