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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Israel plans to open an official embassy in Bahrain by the end of December, formalizing 25 years of secret diplomatic contacts, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: Israel already had a diplomatic mission in Manama for the last 11 years, run out of a front company that was listed as a commercial consulting firm. Now, there will be an Israeli flag and a sign on the door.

The state of play: The new embassy will not be in the same location as the secret diplomatic mission, which will shut down.

  • In order to open the new embassy as quickly as possible, it will be located in temporary offices.

Driving the news: The two Israeli diplomats who will staff the embassy arrived in Manama last week with their Israeli diplomatic passports.

  • The Israeli diplomats were welcomed by Bahraini Foreign Ministry representatives and given official accreditations.
  • On Monday, the senior Israeli diplomat charged with opening the embassies in Bahrain and the UAE, Dror Gabbay, arrived in Manama and viewed several potential locations for the embassy offices.
  • Bahraini Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Zayed al-Zayani arrived in Israel today with a large trade and business delegation to push forward with more agreements and deals.

Behind the scenes: The new embassy staff is under strict security protocols in the aftermath of the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

  • Bahrain issued a statement condemning the assassination and calling for all parties to show restraint in order to avoid further escalation.

What they're saying: Gabbay told me the Bahrainis have been very helpful and given a warm welcome to the Israeli diplomats.

  • “It was all very natural and easygoing. I am not sure I would have believed you if you told me this would be the reality three months ago," he said.
  • Gabbay stressed that Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi’s instructions were to open the embassy as soon as possible in order to start providing consular services, issuing visas and pushing forward business deals.

What’s next: Gabbay told me the goal is to move the embassy to a permanent location by the end of 2021.

Go deeper

Jan 27, 2021 - World

Scoop: Sudan wants to seal Israel normalization deal at White House

Burhan. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty

Three months after Sudan agreed to normalize relations with Israel, it still hasn't signed an agreement to formally do so. Israeli officials tell me one reason has now emerged: Sudan wants to sign the deal at the White House.

Driving the news: Israel sent Sudan a draft agreement for establishing diplomatic relations several weeks ago, but the Sudanese didn’t reply, the officials say. On Tuesday, Israeli Minister of Intelligence Eli Cohen raised that issue in Khartoum during the first-ever visit of an Israeli minister to Sudan.

Jan 26, 2021 - World

Biden administration lays out its policies on Israel-Palestine at the UN

Biden with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010. Photo: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

The Biden administration today laid out its policies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and stressed its intention to renew ties with the Palestinian Authority.

Why it matters: The Trump administration dramatically changed U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. President Biden's policies, laid out for the first time today, will shift the U.S. back to the more traditional positions held by previous Democratic and Republican administrations.

Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

Marion County Forensic Services vehicles are parked at the site of a mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Friday. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two assault rifles believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI said in a statement to news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.

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