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Netanyahu says Bahraini crown prince invited him to Manama in ‘near future’

A week after first-ever visit to Jewish state by Gulf island’s foreign minister, PM says he will accept invitation ‘with pleasure’

(L to R) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, all mask-clad due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, arrive for a press conference after their trilateral meeting in Jerusalem on November 18, 2020. (Menahem KAHANA / POOL / AFP)
(L to R) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, all mask-clad due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, arrive for a press conference after their trilateral meeting in Jerusalem on November 18, 2020. (Menahem KAHANA / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday morning that he had spoken on the phone with Bahrain’s crown prince and prime minister, Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who invited him to visit the Gulf nation, months after the countries normalized their ties.

The development followed the first-ever visit by a Bahraini foreign minister to the Jewish state last week.

The state Bahrain news agency said the phone call between the leaders was held Monday night. It said they discussed the promotion of relations between the two countries and “ways to establish collaboration across various sectors to further enhance peace and stability in the region.”

In his own statement, Netanyahu said he had a “very friendly” conversation with the crown prince, adding that it was the second time they had spoken.

“We are both very excited by the fact that we can bring the fruits of peace to our nations and countries in a very short time,” Netanyahu said. “That’s why he invited me to come in the near future for an official visit to Bahrain. I will do that, on your behalf, with pleasure.”

Bahrain’s Crown prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa smiles while seeing off Britain’s Prince Charles and wife Camilla in Manama, Bahrain, November 11, 2016. (AP/Jon Gambrell)

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi is himself planning to travel to Bahrain on December 3 to participate in the IISS Manama Dialogue security conference. He is scheduled to stay in Bahrain until December 6, when the conference ends.

Additionally, an economic ministerial delegation from Bahrain is expected to arrive in Israel next week.

Israel and Bahrain established diplomatic ties in September, and have since reached an agreement to open reciprocal embassies.

Visiting Israel last week, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani called for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, indicating that the region would only know true peace with the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Delivering a statement alongside Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, al-Zayani said he hoped the emerging cooperation between Israel and Bahrain would “pave the way for a dawn of peace for the entire Middle East.”

From left to right: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

In the past two months, Jerusalem and Manama have made “considerable progress” on the path to a more stable region based on peace, dialogue and understanding, Bahrain’s top diplomat said.

In their respective speeches, Netanyahu and Pompeo hailed Israel’s recent normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — known as the Abraham Accords — and Sudan, but did not explicitly refer to the Palestinians.

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