“Our three countries work together because we have similar interests in the region,” said Israeli Alternate Premier and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, referring to efforts by his nation, the United States and the Kingdom of Bahrain to counter Iran.
By Erin Viner
Lapid made the remarks after touring the Bahrain headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which has faced off Islamic Republican Guard Corps (IRGC) vessels amid tensions in the Gulf. The visit to the US naval headquarters is widely viewed as meant to signal common cause against Tehran.
“Our opportunities are shared. Our threats are also shared, and they aren’t far from here,” commented Israel’s top diplomat in a not-so-veiled allusion to the Islamic Republic. “When we speak about peace, we need to remember that peace must be protected from those who would harm it,” he added, according to a statement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Bahrain, a Sunni-ruled island country, accused Iran of fueling a 2011 uprising led mostly by Shi’ite Muslim members of its population, which the Ayatollah regime has denied.
In a message posted on Twitter, the Fifth Fleet said Lapid and his hosts discussed regional maritime security cooperation.
Marking the highest-level visit to Bahrain, Lapid was in Manama to inaugurate Israel’s embassy on first anniversary of the Abraham Accords. Bahrain and Gulf neighbor the United Arab Emirates normalized relations with the Jewish State in 2020 in a US-brokered deal based on concern over threats posed by Iran as well as common commercial interests. Sudan and Morocco later joined the peace process by forging their own ties to Israel.
During the summit, Lapid met with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, writing in a later Tweet that “His Majesty’s leadership and inspiration have led to true cooperation and our meeting outlined the path forward for our relationship.” He also signed deals on bilateral cooperation in medicine, healthcare, sports, water and environmental conservation with his Bahraini counterpart. This, as the first Gulf Air commercial flight launched a twice-weekly direct connection to Tel Aviv.
Palestinians have condemned the Abraham Accords, accusing Arab states of sidelining their own campaign for statehood by making peace with Israel.
The Islamist Hamas rulers of Gaza slammed Manama for hosting Lapid, with the terror group’s Spokesman Hazem Qassem saying the visit served as “encouragement” of what he claimed were Israeli “crimes against our people.”
For its part, Tehran denounced Lapid’s visit as a “stain” that “will not be erased from the reputation of Bahrain’s rulers.”
“We condemn any scheme that bolsters Israel’s destructive presence in the region,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement reported by the state-run Islamic Republic IRNA news agency. “The people of the region will continue to oppose the process of normalization of ties with the Zionist regime,” he added.