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President Herzog to make first-ever state visit to Bahrain next month

Israeli head of state to meet with senior government officials, business leaders and local Jewish community; Herzog will also visit UAE, meeting with Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Illustrative: President Isaac Herzog boards a plane as he sets off for Ukraine to participate in memorial ceremony marking the 80th anniversary since the babi Yar massacre. (Haim Zach / GPO)
Illustrative: President Isaac Herzog boards a plane as he sets off for Ukraine to participate in memorial ceremony marking the 80th anniversary since the babi Yar massacre. (Haim Zach / GPO)

President Isaac Herzog will head to the Gulf next month to meet with the leaders of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, his office announced on Wednesday.

The president is slated to take off for a state visit to Bahrain on December 4, at the invitation of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

He will be the first Israeli head of state to visit Bahrain. In January, Herzog visited the UAE’s Abu Dhabi and Dubai in a two-day trip.

While in Bahrain he will meet with members of the local Jewish community and senior government officials, and will lead a group of Israeli businesspeople to meet with the Bahrain Economic Development Board.

The next day, Herzog heads to the UAE to meet with his Emirati counterpart Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Abu Dhabi ruler known colloquially as MBZ. This will be the fourth meeting between the two leaders.

Herzog will also attend the Abu Dhabi Space Debate.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog, center, and First Lady Michal Herzog are received by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, January 30, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via AP)

According to Herzog’s office, the leaders will discuss “strengthening Israel-UAE relations, the importance of peace, and the expansion of bilateral cooperation.”

Earlier this week, presumptive incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a phone call with Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

The pair shared their desire to continue to deepen relations between the two countries, and Netanyahu invited Al Khalifa to visit Israel.

Israel and Bahrain normalized ties in 2020, under Netanyahu’s previous government, as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords, which also established diplomatic relations between the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates. The accord paved the way for normalization with Morocco months later.

Former president Donald Trump, center, with from left, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump, and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, during the Abraham Accords signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, September 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Following Israel’s general elections earlier this month, Bahrain said it would continue to advance growing ties with Israel, as the Jewish state looks set to usher in its most right-wing government ever, including far-right elements.

Last month, a delegation of Israeli paratroopers held a joint jump over Bahrain, alongside soldiers from the Gulf nation, the UAE, and the United States to mark two years since the signing of the Abraham Accords.

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