Bilateral agreements are also to be concluded during the visit, a first for an Israeli diplomat in Bahrain.
A few hours after the arrival of Mr. Lapid in the capital Manama, an Airbus A320 of the national company Gulf Air landed in Tel Aviv from Bahrain, inaugurating the very first commercial air link between the two countries.
“I am very proud to represent Israel on the first official and historic visit to the Kingdom (of Bahrain),” Lapid tweeted in Arabic and Hebrew after arriving at Manama Airport where he was greeted by his Bahraini counterpart Abdellatif al-Zayani.
A joint press conference is scheduled for later today.
Demonstrators burned tires on the outskirts of the capital Manama to protest the visit, with a large part of Bahraini society opposing normalization with Israel in support of the Palestinian cause. The Arabic hashtag “Bahrain Against Zionism” is popular on social media.
Bahraini opposition criticizes visit
Bahrainis refuse to let “their land be defiled by Zionist gangsters,” human rights activist Ibrahim Sharif tweeted. And the Shiite opposition party Al-Wefaq sees this visit as a “provocation against the Bahraini people who hold on to the Palestinian cause”.
The road to the airport has been placed under close surveillance, with no Israeli flag hoisted for the occasion.
On September 15, 2020, Bahrain signed, along with the United Arab Emirates, an agreement to establish official relations with Israel, making these Gulf monarchies the first Arab countries to recognize the Hebrew state, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
The Palestinians denounced a “stab in the back” and accused the Emirates and Bahrain of having betrayed the “Arab consensus” making the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the sine qua non for the normalization of relations with the state Hebrew.
The so-called Abraham Agreements were promoted by the previous American administration of Donald Trump, in exchange for various economic or political concessions for the benefit of the Arab countries concerned.
This diplomatic campaign also resulted in similar agreements with Morocco and Sudan.
On June 29, Yaïr Lapid inaugurated in the Emirates the first Israeli embassy in the Gulf, during an unprecedented official visit, then he went to Morocco on August 11 to sign cooperation agreements.
Close to the Emirates and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the first economic power in the Arab world, refuses to normalize its ties with Israel, insisting on the need to resolve the Palestinian question first.
Ryad had denied information from the Israeli press on a meeting between former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.