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Bahraini FM to ToI: Peace confab could be ‘gamechanger’ like Camp David

Bahrain sees the US-led economic workshop taking place in Manama this week as a possible “gamechanger” tantamount in its scope to the 1978 Camp David peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, the Gulf state’s foreign minister says.

“We see it as very, very important,” Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa tells The Times of Israel on the sidelines of the Peace to Prosperity workshop.

“As much as Camp David 1 was a major game changer, after the visit [to Jerusalem] of President Sadat — if this succeeds, and we built on it, and it attracts attention and momentum, this would be the second gamechanger.”

Speaking to The Times of Israel in his suite at Manama’s posh Four Seasons hotel, Al-Khalifa does not commit to normalizing diplomatic ties with Israel in the near future, but unequivocally affirms Israel’s right to exist as a state with secure borders.

“Israel is a country in the region… and it’s there to stay, of course,” he says.

“Who did we offer peace to [with] the [Arab] Peace Initiative? We offered it to a state named the State of Israel, in the region. We did not offer it to some faraway island or some faraway country. We offered it to Israel. So we do believe that Israel is a country to stay, and we want a better relations with it, and we want peace with it.”

While Bahrainis might be the only Arab state, besides Egypt and Jordan, to publicly acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, “we know our brothers in the region do believe in it” as well, he says.

Full interview to come.

Raphael Ahren

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