Bahrain Leaves Yerushalayim Out of News Coverage

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani speaks during a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting in Jerusalem November 18, 2020. (Menahem Kahana/Pool via REUTERS)

Reticence over publicly acknowledging normalization with Israel and all it entails lingers in Bahrain.

Official Bahraini news outlets carefully avoided any mention of Yerushalayim in coverage of Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani’s visit there on Thursday, even though he spent almost 12 hours in the Israeli capital, according to the Times of Israel.

The websites of both the Foreign Ministry and the state-owned Bahrain News Agency failed to mention the first-time ever visit to Yerushalayim of a senior official from Manama. In addition, they reported, falsely, that al-Zayani’s met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Tel Aviv, even though he did not stop in Tel Aviv at all.

“Al Zayani has conveyed to his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi Bahrain’s approval of the request by Tel Aviv to open an embassy in Manama,” said the Bahrain Foreign Ministry’s readout of their conversation stated.

Those who use “Tel Aviv” as a synecdoche for Israel usually mean to imply that the coastal city is Israel’s capital, not Yerushalayim, the Times pointed out.

The Bahraini Foreign Ministry did not reply to a request for comment.

“Welcome to Israel, welcome to Jerusalem,” the Israeli head of state told his prominent guest, according to a readout provided by Rivlin’s office. “The whole world should come and see the flags of Israel and Bahrain, flying together today — here at the President’s Residence and in the streets of Jerusalem.”

The website of the Bahrain foreign ministry, however, noted that the meeting with Rivlin occurred “on the occasion of [al-Zayani’s] visit to Tel Aviv.”

The minister’s next stop was Netanyahu’s official residence on Balfour Street, where they were joined by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. According to the Bahraini Foreign Ministry, al-Zayani “underscored [the] keenness of the Kingdom of Bahrain on committing to peace… during a meeting in Tel Aviv” with Netanyahu.

Screen capture of a report on the Bahraini foreign minister’s visit to Israel, which falsely says he met Prime Minister Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, rather than in Jerusalem, posted on the Bahrain Foreign Ministry website

“Secretary of State Pompeo, my dear friend Mike, it’s always a pleasure to see you in Jerusalem. Foreign Minister Dr. Al-Zayani, it’s a pleasure to see you again, and it’s a tremendous pleasure to welcome you for the first time ever in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of a joint statement the three men made at the top of their meeting.

“It’s great to be back in Jerusalem, as always, the rightful capital of the Jewish homeland,” Pompeo said, standing next to Netanyahu and Al-Zayani.

The Bahraini foreign minister avoided naming the city in which he was speaking. Instead, he spoke of his “visit to Israel.”

Later on Wednesday evening, the three leaders and other officials from their respective countries gathered for a summit to discuss various issues on the agenda.

“The Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Israel have agreed to start operating… commercial flights and initiate procedures to open embassies, based on the Memorandum of Understanding concluded between the two countries for cooperation in the field of air services,” the Bahraini Foreign Ministry stated.

“The steps were announced during the trilateral session of talks which was held in Tel Aviv.”

In fact, the talks took place at the King David Hotel, in Jerusalem.