Jul 18, 2019

Scoop: Foreign ministers of Israel and Bahrain meet in Washington

U.S. Iran envoy Brian Hook (C) with the foreign ministers of Israel (L) and Bahrain (R).

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz had a short and rare public encounter yesterday with Bahrain's foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, at a State Department reception.

Why it matters: There has been a flurry of meetings between Israeli officials and their counterparts from the Gulf states recently, but the meetings are typically not made public by either party. That's why the joint photo of both ministers is even more significant than the meeting itself. Israel and Bahrain don't have diplomatic relations but are in a steady process of warming ties.

Both ministers were in Washington for a gathering on religious freedom organized by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. They spoke for a few minutes, shook hands and took a joint photo.

  • The ministers were encouraged to meet by the U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, who joined them for the photo.
  • This is another sign of the Trump administration’s success in moving Israel and the Gulf states closer together against their shared adversary, Iran.
  • It comes several weeks after the conference in Bahrain on the economic part of the Trump administration's Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Bahrain agreed to let Israeli businessmen and journalists attend.

Jason Greenblatt, the White House special envoy for Middle East peace, welcomed the short meeting in a tweet and wrote: "Terrific progress in Washington this week for Israel, Bahrain & the region."

Go deeper: Bahrain foreign minister's first interview with an Israeli journalist.

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