Following a visit by Chad’s President Idriss Déby to Israel on Sunday, government sources have confirmed that Israel is seeking diplomatic ties with Bahrain as well.
By Sara Rubenstein –Jerusalem Post
Israel is trying to establish a diplomatic relationship with Bahrain, according to Channel 2 and Walla! reports on Sunday night.
Following a visit by Chad’s President Idriss Déby to Israel on Sunday, and the report that Israel is also seeking to establish diplomatic ties with Sudan, government sources have confirmed that Israel and Bahrain are in talks to establish official diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu had hinted to further developments with establishing ties with Arab countries at the press conference with the president of Chad. Netanyahu referred to his official visit to Oman a month ago, and said that “there will be similar visits to other Arab countries soon.”
Bahrain, which has 1.4 million residents in the Persian Gulf, has no diplomatic relations with Israel. The country has a small Jewish community of about 40 people and is the only country in the Gulf that has a synagogue.
Bahrain is an ally of the United States and has a cooperative agreement with US military, allowing it to maintain a military base on its territory since the early 1990s.
Israel is reportedly trying to establish a diplomatic relationship with Sudan in order to allow Israeli airplanes to fly over their airspace, thereby shortening the flight routes from Brazil to Israel. The shortened route would require the cooperation of both Chad and Sudan, both of which are Muslim states with no relations with Israel. Netanyahu is reportedly trying to change that fact and establish diplomatic relations with both countries.
Since becoming the first Israeli prime minister in July 2016 to visit Africa in some three decades, Netanyahu has place improved ties with Africa high on the country’s diplomatic agenda. Since that visit he has made two other trips to Africa.
Chad – which has found itself on the front lines in the battle against Islamic extremists – severed ties with Israel in 1972 after coming under intense pressure from its Arab neighbors, Libya and Sudan. Chad is a member of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Contacts with Chad about re-establishing diplomatic ties have been taking place intermittently since then Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold went to the country and met Déby shortly after Netanyahu’s visit to Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Rwanda in 2016.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.