Iran said Friday that the visit by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to Bahrain this week left a stain on the reputation of the Gulf state’s rulers that “will not be erased.”
Lapid on Thursday officially opened Israel’s embassy in Manama and met with top-ranking officials, a year after the two countries agreed to normalize diplomatic relations and in the first public visit by an Israeli minister since the agreement.
“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 official IRNA news agency and cited by the Reuters news agency.
“It is unfortunate that Bahrain’s rulers ignore the Zionist regime’s daily crimes against the oppressed but resilient people of Palestine,” Khatibzadeh said.
“This stain will not be erased from the reputation of Bahrain’s rulers. The people of the region will continue to oppose the process of normalization of ties with the Zionist regime,” he said.
Sunni-ruled Bahrain has faced long-running unrest among its large Shiite community that it has consistently blamed on Iran.
In what was seen as a signal to Tehran, Lapid and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al Zayani on Thursday toured the USS Pearl Harbor landing ship and met with Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, who commands US naval forces in the region.
“Israel, Bahrain and the US are partners in liberty and in a vision of a free world,” Lapid wrote on Twitter. “Economic growth and an interconnected world are based on both security and free and safe shipping lanes. These too are guaranteed through strong coalitions.”
Earlier in the day, Lapid met with Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the royal palace, the first public meeting between the monarch and an Israeli official. He also met with Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the prime minister and crown prince.
The deal to establish ties with Bahrain was part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords, which also saw Israel announce the normalization of ties with the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco.
Lazar Berman contributed to this report.