Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar on Monday concluded a rare visit to Bahrain, where he met the Arab kingdom’s king, as well as religious leaders from Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Russia, the United States, Italy, India, and Thailand.
“Middle East nations want peace with Israel, the leadership should promote that without fear,” Amar, the former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, said during his stay, expressing hope that in the future, such visits would not require special preparation.
“The people of the Middle East want peace with Israel, and good relations,” he said.
Amar sent to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa “a blessing from Jerusalem that will lead to a solid relationship with the State of Israel.”
תחת אבטחה ובתיאום גורמים מדיניים בישראל, הראשל"צ הגאון רבי שלמה משה עמאר ביקר בכנס ראשי דתות בבחריין. pic.twitter.com/KLtdjvmjMp
— ישי כהן (@ishaycoen) December 9, 2019
He was invited by the king to attend an interfaith event. Diplomatic officials and the Foreign Ministry were involved in organizing the visit, the schedule and security arrangements.
Though Israel has ties with only two Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, there has been an opening with Bahrain and other Gulf states in recent years amid their shared antipathy toward Iran.
In October, Foreign Ministry official Dana Benvenisti-Gabay attended a security conference in Bahrain in a rare formal visit.
In June, Bahrain hosted an American-led conference where US President Donald Trump’s peace team rolled out the economic aspects of its long-awaited proposal to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While no Israeli officials were there, a number of the country’s businessmen and journalists were invited to attend the workshop.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa told The Times of Israel at the conference that “Israel is a country in the region… and it’s there to stay, of course.”
In July, Foreign Minister Israel Katz met Khalifa for a brief chat on Iran in Washington and the two posed for a rare photograph, marking what Jerusalem said was a boost in ties with the Gulf nation.