Two Israelis who wished to thank Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for his role in the Abraham Accords recently visited the Gulf state after receiving a personal invitation from the king, and presented him with a peace sculpture.
Uriel Pearl and Joy Malka Rothenberg, members of an Israeli initiative that aims to develop business ties between Israel and the kingdom, gifted the king with a “Dove of Peace” sculpture by renowned Israeli sculptor Daniel Kafri, the Ynet news site reported Friday.
Other versions of the sculpture were given to leaders involved in the Israel-Jordan peace treaty in 1994.
They had explained the symbolic significance the statue held in Israeli history, and their desire to gift it to the king, in a letter conveyed to the Bahraini palace by Bahraini Ambassador to Israel, Khaled Yousif al-Jalahma.
A couple of months after sending the letter, Pearl and Malka Rothenberg were invited by the king to visit his palace in Manama.
They arrived in Bahrain last month and were welcomed by royal officials. During a half-hour meeting with the king, they spoke about the warm relations between the countries and the local Jewish community, the Ynet report said.
ישראלים כתבו למלך בחריין – והוזמנו לארמונו: "כולנו בני אברהם" pic.twitter.com/scsTJzXchM
— ynet עדכוני (@ynetalerts) April 1, 2022
The king reportedly said the peace agreement with the Jewish state was the official expression of a close partnership that has lasted for years.
“We’ve always had a warm relationship with the Jews,” he said, noting that his country holds a traditional prayer every year for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that includes 3,000 people “from all religions.”
“One can’t be against the oldest religion in the world. Your religion is wonderful. One can only oppose the behavior of certain people, but not your religion. We are all sons of Abraham,” he said.
Pearl and Malka Rothenberg shared with the king the historical and religious context of the dove of peace symbol and told him earlier versions of the sculpture were bestowed on former US president Bill Clinton and King Hussein of Jordan for their roles in peacemaking with Israel.
“The time has come and now we deserve one too,” he reportedly said.
Pearl and Malka Rothenberg described the Bahraini king as “kind, calm and powerful,” according to Ynet.
“We thank the Bahraini ambassador for agreeing to the idea and appreciating the opportunity to bring our nations closer together through art,” they added.
The Israelis extended a warm invitation to the king, to which he replied: “I intend to visit Israel.”
In February, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Al Khalifa during his landmark trip to the tiny Gulf state — the first by an Israeli premier.
“I come from Israel with a spirit of goodwill, cooperation, of standing together in the face of common challenges, and I think our goal in this visit is to turn this peace from a peace between governments to a peace between people, and convert it from something ceremonial to something meaningful,” Bennett told the king at the time.
Bahrain normalized ties with Israel in late 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords, a series of agreements between Israel and Arab states backed by Washington.
Tal Schneider contributed to this report.