By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News -
In an historic first, Israeli and American officials departed Tel Aviv on a direct flight bound for Manama, Bahrain on Sunday morning.
The delegation will meet with Bahraini officials in order to establish formal diplomatic relations between the Jewish state and the Gulf nation.
The Israeli delegation is led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, who was present during the historic Israeli diplomatic visit to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last month.
Before the flight departed, Ben-Shabbat read selections from the Jewish traveler’s prayer on the tarmac. “May [God] guide us safely and bring us to our desired destination, to a good life and peace,” he said.
“I am excited and proud to head the Israeli delegation that is leaving today for talks in Bahrain,” Ben-Shabbat added. “Today we will hold discussions in professional teams and working groups on a long series of issues: finance and investments, trade and economy, tourism, aviation, communications, culture, science, technology, agriculture and others.”
Joining Ben-Shabbat on the diplomatic visit are Ronen Peretz, the acting director for the Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz, and other senior officials from the Tourism and Communications Ministries.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Avi Berkowitz and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, are flying to Manama alongside the Israeli delegation, but will continue on to the UAE after meeting with Bahraini officials.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Adullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, who signed the Abraham Accords on behalf of Bahrain at a White House ceremony last month, and Undersecretary of International Affairs Abdulla bin Ahmed bin Abdulla Al-Khalifa are expected to greet the Israeli and American delegations at the airport in Manama.
Israeli and Bahraini officials will sign a “Joint Communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic, peaceful and friendly relations.”
“The aim of the communiqué is to start implementing the declaration which was signed in Washington, put more meat into it, make it more detailed and define the principles of the relations between the countries,” a senior Israeli official told news site Walla on Friday.
“It will be the umbrella for all bilateral agreements to be signed in the next several months,” he said.
Abdulla Al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s Ambassador to the U.S., tweeted praise on Saturday for the visit, referring to the event as “another historic day,” accompanied by the hashtag “#warmpeace.”