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Lapid inaugurates Israeli embassy in Bahrain

At ceremony in Manama with his Bahraini counterpart, FM says ‘Israel made a major, historical step today in the Gulf’

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al Zayani open Israel’s embassy in Manama, on September 30, 2021. (Shlomi Amsallem/GPO)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al Zayani open Israel’s embassy in Manama, on September 30, 2021. (Shlomi Amsallem/GPO)

MANAMA, Bahrain — Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday officially opened Israel’s embassy in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, a year after the two countries agreed to normalize diplomatic relations.

“May our people live in peace and prosperity forever,” Lapid said during the inauguration.

He added in Hebrew: “Israel made a major, historic step today in the Gulf.”

The ceremony was also attended by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al Zayani.

“It is an unmistakable signal to all that we are determined,” he said. “We are not done.”

The embassy is located on the 29th floor of the Bahrain World Trade Center. Longtime diplomat Eitan Na’eh has been tapped to serve as the first Israeli ambassador to Bahrain, although his nomination has yet to be confirmed. The Bahraini ambassador to Israel took up his position earlier this month.

According to Lapid, he and Zayani agreed that Bahrain will open an embassy in Israel by the end of the year.

Maggie Nardi, the United States chargé d’affaires in Bahrain, who attended the event, said that the inauguration was “a great honor for the United States.”

The deal to establish ties with Bahrain was part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords, which also saw Israel normalize ties with the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco.

Also on Thursday, Lapid and Zayani were accompanied by Nardi as they 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.”

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid visits the USS Pearl Harbor in Bahrain, on September 30, 2021. (Lazar Berman)

Earlier, Lapid met with 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.

Lapid landed in Manama on Thursday morning for the first ministerial visit to the island kingdom since bilateral relations were formally established last year.

Along with the embassy opening, he signed framework agreements on water, environment and sports, among other areas.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with Bahraini King Hamid bin Issa al Khalifa at his palace in Manama, on September 30, 2021. (Shlomi Amsallem/GPO)

With the trip, Lapid became the first Israeli foreign minister to visit Bahrain. In 1994, Environmental Affairs Minister Yossi Sarid traveled to the kingdom to participate in regional talks and meet with Bahrain’s foreign minister.

The first commercial flight between Manama and Tel Aviv also took off for Israel Thursday morning, shortly after Lapid landed in Bahrain. Passengers include the heads of Gulf Air and a Jewish chef named Alex, who owns a restaurant in Bahrain and is flying to Isael to see his mother and two sisters.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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