Bahrain – Israel to become friends today

A joint US-Israel delegation is meeting in Bahrain today to sign a series of bilateral agreements between Israel and Bahrain, including a so-called Joint Communiqué that will formally establish diplomatic relations between the two countries.

El Al Flight 973 is scheduled to depart from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to Manama at 11.00 a.m. in what would be the first-ever commercial nonstop flight from Israel to the Gulf kingdom. 973 is also the phone country code for Bahrain. The same symbol was used with the UAE.

On Sunday evening, the US delegation — headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin the White House’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Avi Berkowitz — will continue to the United Arab Emirates for meetings.

But, contrary to recent reports, the Israeli delegation — headed by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Foreign Ministry director-general Alon Ushpiz — will not join their American colleagues in Abu Dhabi. Rather, they are set to return to Israel on Sunday evening.

Prime Minister’s Office Acting Director-General Ronen Peretz will also join the trip, as will the directors-general of a handful of Israeli ministries.On Tuesday, a senior UAE delegation, including two top cabinet ministers, are expected to arrive in Israel for bilateral talks geared at implementing normalization agreements with Israel signed in Washington last month.

Later on Sunday afternoon, Israel and Bahrain will sign several memorandums of understandings, including the “Joint Communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic, peaceful and friendly relations.”

Relations are expected to also include tourism cooperation.

It is currently unclear whether this document will be brought to the Israeli cabinet and/or the Knesset for approval. It appears likely that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit would require the agreement to be okayed by ministers at the very least, as it contains several obligations on Israel’s part.

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