Why Shimon Peres? A Founding-Generation Friend of Bahrains Govt

2016-10-16 - 11:48 p

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The follow up on the timeline of the Bahraini-Israeli relations, which is stretched over a period of more than 22 years, revealed interesting details, most importantly the remarkable pivotal status filled by former Israeli President Shimon Peres in these relations. This could probably explain the thorough appreciation addressed by Bahraini Foreign Minister, Khalid bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, when news of his [Peres] death was announced. The Bahraini FM described him as "a man of war and a man of the still elusive peace in the Middle East."

In fact, Peres is the highest Israeli official of the founding first-generation, who soldiered on building a regular pattern of relations with the Bahraini political leadership through all positions he occupied in the Israeli leadership. On various occasions, he met with both heads of Bahrain's power pyramid, the king and crown prince.

It began in the year 2000 when he met Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, on the sidelines of the "Davos" International Conference meetings. Back then, Peres was the Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation. The two men met again in 2006 on the sidelines of Clinton's Global Initiative. This time, Peres was Deputy Israeli Prime Minister.

The climax of these relations, effectively engineered by Israeli diplomat Bruce Kashdan, was the secret meeting between Peres, Tzipi Livni, and King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in New York in 2009, on the sidelines of the interfaith dialogue conference, which was held at the United Nations. This time, Peres had become the ninth President of the "State of Israel".

Without knowing the real advantages that Bahrain has gained from developing this relation with Israel, in light of the vast yet ineffective popular denouncement, it is possible to see clearly the advantages achieved by Israel, most importantly normalizing unilateral economic and political relations with Gulf states.

Bahrain declared in 2005 lifting the ban on Israeli goods and closing the boycott office. This came at a time when speeches on Israeli friendliness became a necessity of the Bahraini foreign policy.

Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa, for instance, has demanded in a speech in 2008 to establish a Middle Eastern group that includes Israel. In an article published in "The Washington Post", the Crown Prince called for communicating with the Israelis through Israeli media outlets, because "we, Arabs, have not done enough to directly communicate with the Israeli people," he said. For his part, Undersecretary at the Bahraini Foreign Ministry, Hamad Al-Amer, said in a statement in 2013 that there is a "possibility of coalition and relation normalization with Israel."

The Bahraini King summarized all the aforementioned through his speech welcoming Rabbi Marc Schneier when he visited Manama this year,  2016. He stressed that "opening diplomatic relations with Israel is only a matter of time."

During the 22 years of Bahraini-Israeli relations, each of the following Israeli officials visited Bahrain: Israeli Environment Minister Yossi Sarid in 1994, Former General Manager of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Ron Prosor who was an envoy of Tzipi Livni, in 2007. The meetings of Bahrainis with Israeli officials abroad are uncountable. The meetings of the United Nations General Assembly is considered an annual repeated event for the Bahraini Foreign Minister to meet on its sidelines with the Israeli lobby in the United States, such as the "AIPAC", "The American Jewish Committee" as well as the representative of the "Jewish American Committee for Anti-Defamation."

While diplomatic relations need more time, the economic relations portfolio is pacing faster. The issue is not only limited to the discovery of Israeli products in the Bahraini market every once in awhile, calling on the Israeli diamond dealers to participate in the Manama fairs, or the image improvement "memorandum of understanding" signed with the Israel-linked Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). It rather involves a much deeper economic course. The Bahraini foreign minister's 2015 public statement in an interview with the American "Sky News" Channel, saying that Bahrain and Gulf countries are making negotiations to purchase advanced Israeli military missiles known as the "Iron Dome", via US contractors. This revealed an advanced trot in the race of trade deals. The said negotiations are, according to the news channel, "worth tens, and maybe hundreds of billions of dollars."

In the intelligence arena, the 2011 "WikiLeaks" reported interesting information about communications between Bahrain and the Israeli Mossad intelligence apparatus. This is something the Bahraini King himself confirmed in a meeting with US Ambassador. In 2014, the Israeli army added more to this information. For example, it said, in a report published on its official website, that Bahrain handed over intelligence information to Israel on Iran and Palestinian organizations.

So far, nothing seems to be able to break the Bahraini-Israeli relations. For the opposing popular responses and condemnations have an expected effect, since Bahrain has developed, to an extent, a system that helps the government cope with such responses.

Arabic Version    

: Bahrain Mirror
: http://bahrainmirror.com/en/news/34214.html