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Herzog says planning to soon visit Bahrain, hopes normalization with Sudan advances

At event marking 2 years since Abraham Accords, president cites ‘mutual desire’ between Jerusalem, Khartoum to improve ties; praises visiting Emirati FM as ‘man of peace’

President Isaac Herzog and Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan shake hands during a reception hosted by the UAE to mark the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords, September 15, 2022. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog and Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan shake hands during a reception hosted by the UAE to mark the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords, September 15, 2022. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog said on Thursday that he soon plans to visit Bahrain, while speaking at a reception hosted by the United Arab Emirates to celebrate two years since Jerusalem established diplomatic ties with Manama and Abu Dhabi.

“I intend to visit Bahrain in the coming months as the guest of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in order to continue exploring together new ways to enhance our nations’ cooperation, for the sake of the peace, prosperity, and success of our entire region,” Herzog announced.

The event in Herzliya Pituah was hosted by UAE Ambassador to Israel, Mohammed Al Khaja, and attended by Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was visiting Israelis as the countries celebrated the second anniversary of the US-brokered Abraham Accords.

The 2020 agreement normalized relations between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. Morocco followed suit some months later. Sudan also signed onto the accords, but the process to establish full diplomatic relations with Khartoum has since stalled.

Herzog praised bin Zayed as “a man of peace” and called him “a central actor” in the drafting of the accords. Herzog also hailed the role played by then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former US president Donald Trump in securing the agreements.

Herzog sounded optimistic that progress could be made with Sudan, noting “positive conversations” he has held with Sudanese leaders which indicated a “mutual desire” for improved ties between the countries.

President Isaac Herzog speaks during a reception hosted by the UAE marking the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords, September 15, 2022. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

“All Israeli governments have a commitment to this dramatic transformation and to these accords, and the Israeli people salute our new friends with a joyous and open heart,” he said.

Herzog added that he hoped to see a similar agreement with the Palestinians as well.

Earlier this year, then-prime minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited Bahrain for their first official trips. IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi also visited in March, accompanied by Tal Kelman, the military official in charge of the Iran file.

While the Abraham Accords have led to the intensification of cooperation in several areas between Israel and its neighbors, normalization with the Jewish state has yet to garner popular support in the streets of the Arab countries which signed on to the accord.

Washington Institute polling showed 45 percent of Bahrainis holding very or somewhat positive views of the agreements in November 2020. That support had steadily eroded to a paltry 20% by March of this year.

In the UAE, 49% of the country disapproved of the Abraham Accords in 2020. This figure has grown to over two-thirds as of last month. Only 31% of Moroccans favor normalization, according to Arab Barometer.

Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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