image Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Herzog welcomes new Bahrain envoy

The first-ever Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the State of Israel, H.E. Mr. Khaled Yusuf Al Jalahma, has presented his letter of credence to Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

By Erin Viner

The formal ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem yesterday came on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords and the normalization of relations between the two countries.

President Herzog and Ambassador Al Jalahma held a diplomatic working meeting, after which they made a joint statement to the press in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

“The Abraham Accords were the fruit of both vision and power. The vision and power of states and national leaders. The growing partnership between our countries is a model for the entire Middle East, and I hope that other states in our region will be inspired by your example,” said the Israeli leader, according to a statement TV7 received from his office. “Mr. Ambassador, please convey my warmest greetings and respect to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, whom I hope to meet during my presidency,” he added.

President Herzog went on to say, “Bahrain has always served as a model and exemplar of coexistence between different religions and cultures. It is only natural that the name ‘Bahrain’ in Arabic, meaning ‘two seas,’ suits a country that forms a bridge between different nations and cultures, including a fascinating ancient Jewish community alongside Muslim, Christian, and other communities.”

After welcoming the new envoy and his wife to the country and expressing hope to attend the formal opening of the Bahraini Embassy in Israel, President Herzog turned to the strategic importance of the Israeli-Bahraini alliance.

“At this point in time, as new, credible reports are coming in of Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons capacity, it is more important than ever to be united in our struggle against extremist forces working to undermine stability and peace in our region,” he underscored.

Ambassador Khaled Yusuf Al Jalahma responded by conveying to President Herzog the personal greetings of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

“It is a great honor to be the first ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the State of Israel after the establishment of full diplomatic relations between our two countries,” he said, adding: “Peace is the strategic choice of the Kingdom of Bahrain… His Majesty the King believes that dialogue, understanding, and confidence-building are lofty principles and main foundations for achieving cooperation between nations and peoples… I am confident that this historic step will lay a solid foundation for relations between our two countries, based on the values of tolerance and coexistence between peoples, beliefs, and religions.”

The Bahraini diplomat then wished “the citizens of Israel health, well-being, security, stability, and prosperity,” and emphasized that his nation “is guided in its diplomatic relations by solid national principles based on firm foundations and authentic values of prosperity and acceptance of the other… Throughout history, the Kingdom of Bahrain has committed in its relations with other states to promote stability, peace, and prosperity for the peoples of the region.”

“In my role, and in cooperation with the Government of Israel, I shall strive to make our relations constructive and beneficial for both sides,” he said, adding his expectation that, “on a personal level, to develop relations between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Israel in various fields for the benefit of both states and their peoples, for the benefit of mutual assistance and strengthening security, stability, and development in our region.”

Ambassador Al Jalahma then stated in English, “These are not only brave and historic steps, these are giant steps into a future of peace, security, and prosperity for us all. I am confident that the Abraham Accords will forge a path and inspire all nations to strive for a better, more prosperous and secure world.”

Al Jalahma was among the new ambassadors of Mexico, Spain, Estonia, Greece and Vatican City who presented their credentials to President Herzog. Each was greeted by the performance of their respective national anthems by the IDF Orchestra, after which they proceeded to inspect the IDF honor guard, signed the guest book of the President’s Residence and then listened together while Israel’s national anthem was played.

The incoming ambassador of the United Mexican States, H.E. Mr. Mauricio Escanero Figueroa, presented President Herzog with a formal invitation to visit his nation next year as part of celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of bilateral relations. President Herzog expressed hope of meeting Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador soon and invited him for a reciprocal visit to Israel. The two then discussed opportunities to encourage trade between the two countries.

During his greeting to Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia, H.E Mr. Veikko Kala, President Herzog asked for the conveyance of his congratulations to Estonian President-Elect Alar Karis on his recent election. He also reiterated his expectation for the international community to boycott the upcoming anti-Israel Durban IV Conference. President Herzog and the Estonian ambassador then discussed ways to promote cooperation between their two modern, highly digitized nations.

President Herzog also expressed his “warm regards” to King Felipe VI when receiving the new Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain, H.E. Mrs. Ana María Salomón Pérez. After discussion about the rich common history shared by Spain and the Jewish people, the President hailed the strength of bilateral ties and opportunities to deepen cooperation, particularly with the European Union.

During his reception of Ambassador H.E. Mr. Kyriakos Loukakis of the Hellenic Republic, President praised recent fire-fighting cooperation and stressed it is critical for both nations to work together in preparation of future ecological disasters. President Herzog also stressed Israel’s pursuit of upgrading relations with the European Union, while requesting Athens’ assistance in convening the EU-Israel Association Council. Herzog thanked the ambassador for President Katerina Sakellaropoulou’s invitation to visit Greece and said that he hopes to do so in the near future.

President Herzog hailed the importance of Israel-Vatican ties while receiving H.E. Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, Apostolic Nuncio of Vatican City, going on to reaffirm the Jewish State’s commitment to freedom of worship and the protection of all holy sites in Israel.

Religions have been challenged in the modern era,” said President Herzog, adding, “Religions enable families and societies to function better. When one looks at religion itself, it gives a sense of purpose.”