Historic: Israel’s defense minister lands in Bahrain

Benny Gantz is on the first-ever official visit by an Israeli defense minister to the Gulf country.

By Gil Tanenbaum, TPS

Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz landed Wednesday afternoon in Manama, Bahrain, for a historic official visit to the Kingdom. This marks the first time that the head of Israel’s defense establishment has ever visited the Arab Gulf State.

A welcome ceremony was held at Bahrain International Airport, during which the Minister was greeted by his Bahraini counterpart, Minister of Defense Affairs, H.E. Lieutenant-General Abdullah Bin Hassan Al Nuaimi.

Bahrain, along with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was one of the first two Arab nations to enter into a peace agreement with the State of Israel as Part of the Abraham Accords which were signed in the summer of 2020. They remain the only two Gulf nations to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel; however, Saudi Arabia has since increased its level of communications with Israel and even allows Israeli flights to cross through its air space.

Two African Arab nations, Sudan and Morocco, later joined the Abraham Accords, establishing full diplomatic ties with Israel.

While in Bahrain, Gantz is expected to conduct meetings with high-ranking officials in the Bahraini defense establishment and with the Kingdom’s leadership.

Gantz is joined by his Chief of Staff, Maayan Israeli; Commander of the Israeli Navy, Admiral David Saar Salama; Military Secretary Brig.-Gen. Yaki Dolf; and Director of the Defense Ministry Policy and Political-Military Bureau Zohar Palti.

The aircraft carrying the delegation is the first Israeli Air Force plane to land in Bahrain.

The trip follows another historic first for Israeli diplomacy.

Earlier this week, Isaac Herzog became the first Israeli president to visit the UAE. The two-day official visit was at the personal invitation of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Herzog was treated to a reception that included the flying of Israeli flags at the royal palace as well as the playing of Hatikva – Israel’s national anthem – by the country’s state band.