Haaretz | 6 December 2022
Israel and Bahrain expected to close free trade agreement
Israel and Bahrain are close to finalizing a free trade agreement, just over two years after the Gulf state, alongside the United Arab Emirates, signed an agreement to normalize ties with Israel, becoming the first Arab states in a quarter-century to recognize the Jewish state.
Quoting unnamed Israeli political sources, national broadcaster Kan reported that ongoing negotiations for the new agreement are in the final stages, with another round of talks expected to take place within the coming weeks.
The news of the expected agreement, which is projected to increase bilateral trade to the level of hundreds of millions of dollars annually, comes on the heels of President Isaac Herzog’s historic visit to the country on Sunday, becoming the first Israeli head of state to visit the Gulf nation.
Herzog was welcomed by Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and later met with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Several prominent businessmen accompanied Herzog and took part in a meeting with the local economic development council.
The President’s visit took place under intense security following protests against the Israeli leader over the past days. Israeli officials believe that pro-Iranians are responsible for the protests against the visit.
Despite the protests, Herzog and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, were bullish on the long-term possibilities of their countries’ relationship.
“Two years after the signing of the Abraham Accords, which have taken off, now we need to reach cruising altitude, that is, to upgrade the relationship between us even more, strengthen it and add more countries to the Abraham Accords,” Herzog said.
Earlier this year, Naftali Bennett became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit Bahrain, following the normalization agreement signed between the two countries in 2020.