image Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

Israeli President visits Bahrain, UAE

Herzog is the first Israeli head of state to visit the Kingdom of Bahrain for a State Visit at the invitation of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. He was also welcomed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he also made history with his landmark trip earlier this year.

By Erin Viner

This is another historic step in the relationship between Israel and Arab states, signed with the Abraham Accords, and another step toward more and more nations joining the circle of peace with the State of Israel,” President Isaac Herzog said prior to his departure on Sunday.

The national anthems of Israel and Bahrain were played upon Herzog’s arrival at the Al-Qudaibiya Palace in Manama. At the start of the welcoming ceremony, he presented King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa with a silver mezuzah doorpost casing inspired by Torah scroll crowns, symbolizing God’s coronation as king. The mezuzah, symbolizing the covenant with God, is traditionally given as a statement of goodwill and desire for the recipient’s wellbeing.

“You are at the forefront of making history in the region, where Jews and Muslims can dwell together, the sons of Abraham, and move forward in peace. It is a long process, but we can dream of it and we can see it,” President Herzog said to King Hamad, emphasizing, “Our nations joined the path of peace and the Kingdom of Bahrain is really one of the pioneers in this process, joining other nations that are pursuing peace together for the benefit and wellbeing of our peoples and the nations in the region and the world at large.”

King Hamad expressed confidence that Herzog’s visit “has an important role in consolidating relations between our two countries, and supporting our common aspirations in terms of consolidating peace and sustainable development in the region and the world, and represents an opportunity for you to witness the beauty of the religious and cultural diversity in our country, and the spirit of friendliness, tolerance and peaceful coexistence among the members of our honorable society of all religions and races, reaffirming our belief in the values of peace, brotherhood and cooperation among human beings.”

Along with Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the two leaders discussed the importance that their countries attach to their bilateral relationship and the expansion of Israeli-Bahraini cooperation, including trade and business ties.

President Herzog was accompanied by an Israeli economic delegation, comprising Ron Tomer, President of the Manufacturers Association of Israel; Nili Shalev, CEO of the Israel Export Institute; Amiram Appelbaum, Chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority; Amir Shani, Vice President of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce; Avi Hasson, CEO of Start-Up Nation Central; Nir Deutsch, Director of the Foreign Trade and International Affairs Division at the Manufacturers Association of Israel; Sabine Segal, Deputy Director for International Business Affairs, Israel Export Institute; Yariv Becher, Vice President for Innovation Diplomacy at Start-Up Nation Central; Pniel Rosenthal, Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority.

During participation at a forum held at the Bahrain Economic Development Board, President Herzog announced that an expanded business delegation will visit Bahrain soon to further promote economic cooperation. During the event, a national plan by the Kingdom of Bahrain was presented together with national priorities, as well as Bahrain’s history, economic outlook, post-COVID recovery policies, and future projects and challenges.

“We truly feel that we are meeting our cousins, our brothers and sisters. I bring a message of goodwill and congratulations from the people of Israel to the people of Bahrain, hoping to create more business contacts and other relations in all areas of life so we can show the entire region why peace is so important,” he told those gathered.

During later meetings with representatives of the tiny local Jewish community, the Israeli President was presented with three gifts of historic value: a Farhi prayerbook with an Arabic translation, a book detailing the history of the Bahraini Jewish community, and a copy of the permit to establish the local synagogue in 1931.

Bahrain is currently home to a few dozen, mostly elderly Jews. The community was founded by immigrants mainly from Iraq, Iran, and Kuwait in the early 1880s.

“You can see the great affection and respect between the leadership and our nations,” Herzog said following an official luncheon, commenting, “One thing that transpired in our discussion was the immense respect of the King and his family for the Jewish community of Bahrain.”

On Monday, President Herzog traveled to the UAE for his fourth meeting with his Emirati counterpart, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who welcomed him back to his “second home.” The two discussed the further strengthening of bilateral relations, the importance of peace and ways to expand bilateral cooperation.

The Israeli leader delivered the keynote speech at the Abu Dhabi Space Debate, an event where national and industry leaders come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the global space economy.

“We stand here on the brink of a revolutionary new era of space exploration. The heavens are now open to a dizzying array of public and private actors, launching satellites, sensors, and spacecraft into the great unknown,” said President Herzog.

“Hundreds of kilometers above land, borders disappear and are replaced by an intense awareness that we all share one Earth, which we all have a common duty to preserve. And just as borders disappear when Earth is viewed from above, we must work together across these divides, to combat the climate crisis—a threat to us all,” he stressed, adding, “There is no doubt that in the future, the fate of humanity will depend on outer space. But in the immediate present, the ultimate value of space technologies lies in saving the planet we already have.”

Expressing pride in Israel’s “close cooperation with NASA, the European Space Agency, and our counterparts in France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Brazil, and many other countries,” Herzog added that he is “especially proud of our evolving space partnership with the United Arab Emirates. Our two countries are boldly leading our region toward new frontiers in space and leaving our mark on history.”