Israeli delegation cancels trip to Bahrain conference amid security concerns

Organizers say Israelis decided not to attend business congress; decision comes after local lawmakers oppose visit, stress support for ’cause of the brotherly Palestinian people’

A view of the Manama skyline, Bahrain. (CC-BY Jayson De Leon/Wikimedia Commons)
A view of the Manama skyline, Bahrain. (CC-BY Jayson De Leon/Wikimedia Commons)

An Israeli delegation has canceled its participation in a business conference in Bahrain amid security concerns, organizers of the congress said Sunday.

At least three Israeli speakers, including the Israel Innovation Authority’s deputy chief, Anya Eldan, were scheduled to speak at the Global Entrepreneurship Network in Manama that starts Monday, according to the forum’s website.

“While we advised the Israeli delegation they would be welcome, they decided this morning not to come due to security concerns and a wish not to cause disruption for the other 180 nations participating,” the organization’s president Jonathan Ortmans told Reuters.

Last month members of the Bahrain parliament said they were against hosting Israeli speakers in the nation, which — like most Arab countries — does not recognize the Jewish state.

Anya Eldan, the head of the Startup Division at the Israel Innovation Authority (Courtesy)

“Parliament stresses its support for the just cause of the brotherly Palestinian people, and it will remain a priority for the Bahraini and Arab people,” it said in a statement published on its official Facebook page.

“The end of the Israeli occupation and the withdrawal from all Arab land is an absolute necessity for the stability and security of the region and for a fair and comprehensive peace.”

Officially, Israel only has diplomatic relations with two Arab states — neighboring Egypt and Jordan.

It has, however, recently seen increased behind-the-scenes cooperation with some Arab countries, particularly in tackling their shared enemy, Iran. In February, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told The Times of Israel that his country would “eventually” establish diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

Last year he backed Israel’s right to “defend itself,” after its military said it struck dozens of Iranian military targets in Syria. He said Iran had “breached the status quo in the region and invaded countries with its forces and missiles.”

“Any state in the region, including Israel, is entitled to defend itself by destroying sources of danger,” he wrote on Twitter.

Also in 2018, Bahrain hosted a UNESCO conference attended by an Israeli delegation.

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