image Photo: Elad Malka (IMoD)

Israel, Bahrain hold defense talks

Benny Gantz is conducting an historic, first visit as leader of Israel’s Defense establishment to the Gulf country.

By Erin Viner

The Israeli Defense Minister landed in Manama yesterday, greeted with a formal welcome ceremony at Bahrain International Airport by his Bahraini counterpart, Minister of Defense Affairs, H.E. Lieutenant General, Abdullah Bin Hassan Al Nuaimi.

Throughout the trip, the Minister will hold meetings with high ranking officials in the Bahraini defense establishment and with the Kingdom’s leadership.

Israel’s top defense official is joined by his Chief of Staff Maayan Israeli, Commander of the Israeli Navy Admiral David Saar Salama, Military Secretary Brig. Gen. Yaki Dolf and Director of the Policy and Political-Military Bureau Zohar Palti.

The aircraft carrying the delegation is the first Israeli Air Force (IAF) plane to land in the Kingdom.

Minister Gantz launched his official visit with a meeting at the United States 5th Fleet headquarters, which is based in the Kingdom. He was hosted by US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), US 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Commander, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper and Bahraini Minister of Defense Affairs H Al Nuaimi.

This afternoon, Minister Gantz held official meetings with His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa in the royal palace, where he was also hosted by His Royal Highness Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and Bahrain Defense Forces (BDF) Commander in Chief, H.E. Field Marshal Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.

The two countries made history at the meeting by signing a security cooperation agreement, which is the first between Israel and a Gulf nation.

Bahrain, along with the United Arab Emirates, normalized relations with Israel in 2020 under the US-brokered Abraham Accords, partly out of shared concerns about Iran.

“The MOU (memorandum of understanding) framework will support any future cooperation in the areas of intelligence, mil-to-mil (military to military), industrial collaboration and more,” said the Israeli Defense Ministry in a statement.

“We have reached new heights today in Israel-Bahrain relations with the important meetings that took place and with the signing of the historic MOU. We are building on the groundbreaking Abraham Accords and deepening ties between our nations. Only one year following the signing of the Accords, we have achieved an important defense agreement, which will contribute to the security of both countries and the stability of the region,” said Minister Gantz, according to a statement TV7 received from the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMoD).

“Minister Gantz expressed his anticipation that future cooperation will strengthen the defense forces of both countries and contribute to regional security and stability in the face of emerging threats in the region, and terror groups that continue to strengthen technologically and militarily,” added the statement.

[This article was updated to include reportage on today’s signing of the historic Israel-Bahrain MOU.- Ed.]