President Reuven Rivlin spoke on the phone Monday with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, saying the normalization deal signed recently between the nations was already serving as a “model” for other countries in the region, and expressing hope that the Palestinians will also follow suit.
According to a statement by the President’s Residence, Rivlin congratulated the king ahead of Bahrain’s national day, which will be marked on Wednesday.
“This national day marks a year of historic developments between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates,” Rivlin said. “The developments in our relations could not have happened without the brave and historic decision of His Majesty King Hamad to establish a warm peace with Israel.”
“Peace with Bahrain is already a model for other countries in our region,” the president added. “We have chosen to invest from the very beginning in cooperation in the fields of economy, innovation and health.”
The normalization deals with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco — all announced in recent months — are bitterly opposed by the Palestinians, who have accused those countries of betraying their cause by establishing ties with the Jewish state without it first reaching peace with them.
“We are full of hope that the Palestinians will also take steps to build mutual trust, cooperation and peace,” Rivlin said in the phone call.
The statement said that Rivlin earlier Monday hosted a delegation of social activists and opinion leaders from Bahrain and the UAE currently on their first trip to the Jewish state, a month after he met with the Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani in Jerusalem and extended an invitation to the king to visit.
The latest delegation was part of the Sharka Project, which says it aims to bring together people from those countries and Israel.
“Peace is made between peoples and nations,” he told them. “Your visit here is another step in the path of building warm relations between our countries. I wish you a successful visit and I am glad to meet you here in Jerusalem.”
The statement quoted Dr. Majid a-Sarah from the University of Dubai, one of the leaders of the delegation, as saying: “To visit Israel for the first time as part of a delegation is a historic moment. Israel is a prime example of tolerance in the region. This is a new era of peace and stability between peoples.”
Mashaal a-Shamri from Bahrain said: “As a Bahraini woman visiting Israel, it is a great honor for me to meet the president. We see Israel as a place of peace, success and coexistence.”
The visit and call came after Morocco on Thursday became the fourth Arab state this year, after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, to announce it had agreed to normalize relations with Israel. US President Donald Trump in turn fulfilled a decades-old goal of Morocco by backing its contested sovereignty in Western Sahara.