Report: Israel had embassy in Bahrain since 2009

“All we have to do is change the sign on the door,” said an Israeli official with regard to  establishing an embassy in Bahrain.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

As Bahrain and Israel celebrated the formalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries with a visit by an Israeli delegation to the Gulf state earlier this week, Axios reported that Israel has had a secret embassy in Bahrain since 2009.

The Axios report, which is partially based on a story from Kan News last week, claims that Israel has been conducting diplomacy and business deals in Manama via a front company called The Center for International Development.

After a series of secret meetings in 2007 and 2008 between Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmad Al Khalifa and his then-counterpart Tzipi Livni, Bahrain warmed to the idea of Israel establishing a clandestine mission in Manama.

Once Israel closed its mission in Qatar, which has strained relations with Bahrain, the Manama mission was given the go-ahead.

The Center for International Development was founded in 2009, but has since changed its name. The new name can’t be made public due to security concerns.

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According to Bahraini public records, the company offered commercial consulting, marketing, promotion and investment services, specializing in the areas of medical technology, renewable energy, food security and IT.

The company’s shareholders and board members, past and present, are Israeli diplomats who hold dual citizenship. Former shareholder Brett Jonathan Miller, who holds South African citizenship, was later appointed as Israel’s Consul General to Mumbai.

Another former shareholder, Ido Moed, who is a Belgian national, is now a cyber coordinator for the Foreign Ministry.

British national Ilan Fluss, who served on the company’s board, is currently the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director general for the economy.

Immediately after the signing of a joint communique on diplomatic relations on Sunday in Manama, an Israeli official asked Bahrain’s Foreign Minister for formal permission to open an embassy.

Israeli officials told Axios that establishing the embassy would be easy, because the groundwork and infrastructure is already in place.

“All we have to do is change the sign on the door,” an Israeli official said.