Oman, Abu Dhabi, and now—Bahrain.
The Gulf state became the third country in recent days to host Israeli leaders. This time, Minister of the Economy and Industry Eli Cohen has been invited to the Startup Nations Ministerial conference to be held there, according to media reports.
It is seen as part of Israel’s push to be an active partner with moderate Arab countries. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Oman recently, and Culture Minister Miri Regev in Abu Dhabi. Behind-the-scenes contacts with Saudi Arabia and other Mideast countries have been maintained for quite some time; but these public appearances are new.
The annual conference is an initiative of the World Bank and the Global Entrepreneurship Network, and will be held for the fifth year in a row, having previously been hosted by the cities of Milan, Istanbul, Johannesburg and Medellin.
During the conference, ministers from around the world are expected to discuss ways to accelerate the creation of jobs and increase economic growth by encouraging entrepreneurship.
Israel does not have formal diplomatic relations with any of the abovementioned countries. In 2007, Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa claimed that Tzipi Livni, who was his Israeli counterpart at the time, had offered to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries but “the initiative was put on hold,” Ynet said.