Lapid Lands in Bahrain

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is received by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al-Zayani upon his arrival at Bahrain International Airport in Muharraq, Bahrain, September 30, 2021. (REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed)

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid flew to Bahrain on Thursday on the highest-level official Israeli visit to the Gulf state since the countries established formal relations last year.

Lapid, who landed at Bahrain‘s international airport in an Israir plane with an olive branch painted on its nose, will inaugurate Israel’s embassy in Manama and hold talks with his Bahraini counterpart.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson said five memorandums of understanding will be signed, including cooperation agreements between hospitals and water and power companies.

“The main areas in which Bahrain is looking for cooperation have to do with the economy and technology, and a few of the MOUs that will be signed (on Thursday) will be about that,” the spokesperson said, without elaborating.

He said 12 memorandums of understanding have been signed so far between the two countries, among them deals relating to transportation, agriculture, communication and finance.

Bahrain‘s Gulf Air is due to make its first direct commercial flight to Tel Aviv later in the day.

Bahrain and Gulf neighbor United Arab Emirates normalized relations with Israel last year in a U.S.-brokered deal known as the Abraham Accords that built on shared business interests and worries about Iran.

“We see Bahrain as an important partner, on the bilateral level but also as a bridge to cooperate with other countries in the region,” the spokesperson said.

Lapid returns to Israel on Thursday evening.

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