The Print | 4 September 2023
Israel eyes finalizing free trade pact with Bahrain
Tel Aviv [Israel], September 4 (ANI/TPS) : Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen is seeking to finalize a free trade agreement during his first official visit to Bahrain, which normalized ties with Jerusalem in 2020 under the auspices of the Trump administration-brokered Abraham Accords.
Cohen was welcomed in Manama on Sunday night by his Bahraini counterpart Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani.
On Monday, the top Israeli diplomat is to inaugurate the permanent home of the Israeli Embassy in the Gulf kingdom and sign a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between the countries.
He is also expected to meet with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
The visit was planned “in order to continue building, expanding and deepening the [bilateral] friendship… while strengthening agreements in the economic and trade fields,” Cohen said in an interview with the local Al-Ayyam newspaper.
“Our vision of the Middle East is one in which people live in peace and security. The goal is to ensure economic prosperity and create a new reality,” he added.
In June, Israeli Ambassador to Bahrain Eitan Na’eh told the Tazpit Press Service that the island kingdom can serve as a gateway to ties with other regional Arab countries.
“There is a potential here to widen our connections not only with Bahrain but to the Arab Gulf states,” said Na’eh. “Bahrain can be the point of connection between East and West.”
Last year, then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog travelled to Bahrain on separate trips, in the first state visits by an Israeli head of government and head of state to the kingdom.
In March, an Israeli parliamentary delegation travelled to Bahrain to participate in a conference of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)—the largest inter-parliamentary organization in the world with 179 member national parliaments, including the Knesset, as well as 13 regional parliaments as associate members.
The Abraham Accords also saw Israel establish relations with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan.
US-brokered talks are in full swing to forge a normalization agreement between Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia, a development Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said would constitute a “quantum leap” towards regional peace.
Israeli free trade agreements with the United Arab Emirates and South Korea went into effect in 2023. In August, Israel signed a free trade agreement with Vietnam and launched negotiations with Moldova towards another.
Israel and India are also in the process of expanding their current free trade pact. (ANI/TPS)