Iran Says Israeli Diplomat’s Trip to Bahrain ‘Stains’ Its Rulers

(Reuters) -
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa in Manama, Bahrain, Thursday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Iran said on Friday that a visit by Israel’s foreign minister to Bahrain this week to mark the establishment of relations left a stain on the Gulf Arab state’s rulers that “will not be erased.”

Bahrain and Gulf neighbor United Arab Emirates normalized ties with Israel last year in a U.S.-brokered deal known as the Abraham Accords that built on common commercial interests and worries about Iran. Sudan and Morocco followed suit.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa on Thursday. To signal cause against Iran, Lapid toured Bahrain’s headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which has faced off with Iranian vessels in recent years.

“We condemn any scheme that bolsters Israel’s destructive presence in the region,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency.

“It is unfortunate that Bahrain’s rulers ignore the Zionist regime’s daily crimes against the oppressed but resilient people of Palestine,” Khatibzadeh said, referring to Israel.

“This stain will not be erased from the reputation of Bahrain’s rulers. The people of the region will continue to oppose the process of normalization of ties with the Zionist regime.”

Bahrain, a Sunni Muslim-ruled kingdom, accuses Iran of stoking unrest in Bahrain, a charge that Shiite Muslim Tehran denies. The island state, which quashed an uprising led mostly by Shiite members of its population in 2011, saw some sporadic acts of protest after the Abraham Accords were signed.