Bahrain–Israel relations

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Bahrain–Israel relations
Map indicating locations of Bahrain and Israel



The relations between Bahrain and Israel refers to the current and historical relations between Bahrain and Israel. Relations are generally tense and the two states do not have diplomatic and economic relations. Like most Arab states, Bahrain does not recognize Israel and traditionally supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state. A brief period of warming in relations occurred in the mid-1990s although the full relations will set to be established in the future.


The first ever official Israeli delegation to visit Bahrain was in late September 1994.[1] Yossi Sarid, Israel's Minister for the Environment, took part in regional discussions on environmental issues and met with Bahrain’s foreign minister.[2]

In October 2007, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid Alkhalifa held a meeting with the American Jewish Committee where he said "Palestinian refugees should return to Palestine". In the same month during the General Assembly of the UN, he met with then-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni drawing heavy criticism from the Bahraini parliament.[3]


In 2011, amid Arab spring uprising, Wikileaks cables published on Haaretz revealed some of the hidden relations between Bahraini and Israeli officials. In a meeting with the U.S. ambassador on February 2005, Bahrain's king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa had bragged about having contact with Israel's national intelligence agency, Mossad. He indicated that Bahrain is ready to develop relations in other fields as well. The king reportedly gave orders that official statements don't use phrases such as "enemy" and "Zionist entity" when referring to Israel anymore. However, he refused the idea of having trade relations, saying it was "too early" and would be postponed until the establishment of an independent Palestine state.[4]

Normalization of relations[edit]

Following a video of a ceremony to mark the Jewish Hanukkah holiday hosted by Bahrain that went viral in 2016, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah, during an event hosted by Simon Wiesenthal Center on September 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, denounced the Arab League boycott of Israel and began normalizing relations following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement of normalizing relations with the Arab world.[5] In effect, it allows Bahraini citizens to visit Israel whenever its necessary.[6]

If the two countries begin establishing diplomatic relations, Bahrain will be the fourth Arab country to grant recognition to the State of Israel (the other being Egypt in 1980, followed by Palestinian National Authority in 1993 and Jordan in 1994).

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