10 Dec 2017 - 15:21
Bahraini delegation visits Israel: Media reports
Anadolu Agency / Al Jazeera
JERUSALEM: A delegation from Bahrain has reportedly arrived in Israel on a four-day visit for talks with Israeli officials, days after US President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, according to Israeli media.
The delegation, which was sent upon orders from Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, includes religious figures and met with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv, Israeli Channel Two said.
According to the channel, the Bahraini delegation accompanied by an Israeli foreign ministry delegation visited Jerusalem’s Old City, where the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located.
No further details were given, but Channel Two said the delegation delivered a “message of peace and brotherhood” to Israel from King Khalifa and Bahrain.
Comprising two dozen members of a group called This Is Bahrain, the delegation will stay in Israel for four days to "send a message of religious tolerance and coexistence", according to the Times of Israel on Sunday.
Bahraini officials have previously suggested that stronger ties between Israel and Bahrain could benefit both countries in confronting their mutual rival, Iran.
The report in the Times said the visit indicated a warming of ties between the two countries, which do not maintain diplomatic relations.
Documents released by WikiLeaks in 2011 highlighted Bahrain's contacts with Israel "at the intelligence/security level" and indicated that the Gulf country was "willing to move forward in other areas".
Israeli media had claimed that Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa reportedly condemned the hostility of Arabs against Israel and asserted that Israeli citizens can visit his Gulf state.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously said “developments in Israel’s ties with moderate Arab countries are in an unprecedented situation.”
“The scale of our cooperation with Arab countries has yet to be set, but it is better than ever. These big changes are ongoing despite Palestinians. Unfortunately, the Palestinians have not changed their minds to reach any solution,” Netanyahu had said.
Netanyahu had also pointed to the improving cooperation and ties between Israel and Arab countries without giving any other details.
On Wednesday, Trump announced U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said the U.S. Embassy would be relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The dramatic shift in Washington’s Jerusalem policy triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories and several Muslim countries.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- now occupied by Israel -- might eventually serve as the capital of a future Palestinian state.