Bahrain’s first-ever ambassador to Israel Khaled Yousif Al-Jalahma presented his credentials to President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
Jalahma gave his letter of credence to Herzog in a formal ceremony, a day before the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House, which normalized ties between Jerusalem and Manama.
Jalahma held a diplomatic meeting with Herzog after the presentation ceremony, which was followed by joint statements to the press in Hebrew and Arabic.
“Brave states take brave steps,” Herzog said to Jalahma. “The Abraham Accords were the fruit of both vision and power.”
The president called the relationship “a model for the whole Middle East” and expressed his hope that other countries will follow Bahrain’s example.
Herzog also stressed the threat Iran poses to both nations.
“At this point in time,” he said, “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.”
Jalahma conveyed the personal greetings of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
Calling it “a great honor” to be Bahrain’s first ambassador to Israel, Jalahma said that “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.”
Jalahma wished Israel’s citizens “health, well-being, security, stability, and prosperity,” and said he would work to make relations beneficial for both nations.
“These are not only brave and historic steps,” Jalahma concluded in English, “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.”
On September 15, 2020, the UAE and Bahrain became the first Gulf nations to establish formal relations with the Jewish state. Later, Sudan and Morocco also normalized ties with Israel.
Earlier on Tuesday, Herzog received the credentials from the ambassadors of Mexico, Estonia, Spain, Greece, and Vatican City.
Mexican envoy Mauricio Escanero Figueroa invited Herzog to visit Mexico in 2022 to mark the 70th anniversary of Israel-Mexico ties. Herzog reciprocated by extending an invitation to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Herzog asked Estonia’s ambassador Veikko Kala to convey his congratulations to Alar Karkis on his recent election as president, and stressed his expectation that Western countries boycott the September 22 UN Durban IV conference marking the 20th anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.
The US, Britain, Canada and several other countries have announced they will not attend the event. It marks the 20th anniversary of the notorious World Conference on Racism in the same city, and a separate NGO Forum, at which Israel was singled out for racism and some participants sought to equate Zionism with racism, prompting an Israeli and American walkout. Subsequent Durban conferences have also prompted boycotts by nations concerned about their antisemitic character.
Spain’s ambassador, Ana María Salomón Pérez, discussed with Herzog the history of Jews in Spain and ways to strengthen bilateral relations.
Herzog thanked envoy Kyriakos Loukakis for the Greek president’s invitation to visit, and hailed Israeli-Greek cooperation in fighting fires this summer. He also asked Loukakis for Greece’s help in restarting the annual EU-Israel Association Council meetings.
Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, the Vatican Apostolic Nuncio, presented his credentials next. Herzog reiterated Israel’s commitment to freedom of worship and protection of holy sites in Israel, and added that Pope Francis is a “very important voice.”