Mossad head talks to Bahrain’s PM amid signs it could ink deal with Israel — TV

Mossad head talks to Bahrain’s PM amid signs it could ink deal with Israel — TV

Report says phone call between Yossi Cohen, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa took place in recent days, notes the latter is now reported to have left Bahrain for a ‘private visit’

Head of the Mossad Yossi Cohen speaks at a Cyber conference at the Tel Aviv University on June 24, 2019. (Flash90)
Head of the Mossad Yossi Cohen speaks at a Cyber conference at the Tel Aviv University on June 24, 2019. (Flash90)

Mossad chief Yossi Cohen spoke by phone in the past few days with Bahrain’s prime minister, Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Channel 12 news reported Saturday, amid speculation the Gulf state could imminently follow the United Arab Emirates in normalizing relations with Israel.

The report didn’t give any details on the phone call, news of which was cleared for publication by the military censor.

Israel and the UAE agreed Thursday to establish fully normalized relations, in an announcement first released by US President Donald Trump.

The network sighted unspecified “signs” that Bahrain was seeking to be next in line after the United Arab Emirates to establish diplomatic ties with the Jewish state and that a declaration to this effect was expected soon.

It also noted Bahrain’s official news agency reported Saturday that the Bahraini prime minister had left the country for a “private visit” abroad, speculating this could be linked.

Prime Minister Al Khalifa, 84, traveled to Germany earlier this year for an unspecified ailment. He has been Bahrain’s prime minister since the country gained independence from Britain in 1971.

Bahrain’s Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa in Manama, Bahrain, on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016 (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

The King of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, spoke Saturday with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the TV report also said, and told him of Bahrain’s support for the UAE’s normalizing of ties with Israel.

Besides Bahrain, Oman has also been touted as an Arab nation that could soon normalize ties with Israel. A Kan public broadcaster report Friday said Morocco was another likely candidate to reach an agreement with the Jewish state, while Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Channel 13 news on Saturday he believed Sudan would.

Following the bombshell announcement Thursday of the US-brokered agreement between Israel and the UAE, Hebrew media reports quoted Isaeli officials saying there were “advanced contacts” between Jerusalem and Manama about the potential move.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced their agreement Thursday afternoon. They “agreed to the full normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE,” they said in a joint statement with the US that was released by President Donald Trump.

Bahrain was among those welcoming the deal: “This historic step will contribute to strengthening stability and peace in the region,” the government in Manama said in a statement on the national news agency.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz and his Bahraini counterpart Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa (R) pose for a photograph at the State Department in Washington on July 17, 2019. (Courtesy)

Bahrain also said the accord stopped “the annexation of Palestinian lands and [was] advancing the region towards peace.”

The UAE-Israel deal marks the third such agreement the Jewish state has struck with an Arab country after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994).

Israeli and UAE delegations will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security and the establishment of reciprocal embassies, their statement said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday night that Israel had entered a “new era of Israeli relations with the Arab world,” and that other deals with Arab countries would follow. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said later Thursday that more Arab countries may soon announce normalized ties with Israel and Friday said relations between the Jewish state and Saudi Arabia were inevitable.

Israel agreed to shelve annexation of parts of the West Bank as part of the deal, but it was unclear if the move had been put on hold permanently or temporarily. Netanyahu said his plan to apply Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank with full American coordination had not changed, and was still on the table, but that Trump had requested a temporary halt.

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