In a historic first, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet traveled to Bahrain for a two-day trip Monday to meet with Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa.
The trip represents the deepening ties between the two countries since they normalized relations in 2020 under the Abraham Accords spearheaded by former U.S. President Donald Trump.
Israel has also normalized relations with the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Morocco and other countries that shunned it for years.
"The leaders will discuss additional ways to strengthen bilateral ties … especially the advancement of diplomatic and economic issues, with an emphasis on technology and innovation," Bennett’s office said in a statement.
The trip to Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, comes as tensions in the region grow. Iran-backed Houthis have recently fired missiles into the UAE. The U.S. has also accused Iran of attacking shipping in and around the Persian Gulf and Israel has reportedly increased its naval presence in the Red Sea.
Bennett’s visit comes after Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz went to Manama earlier this month.
The two countries are also deepening their economic ties. Israel and Bahrain had trade estimated at $6.5 billion last year, and there are now direct flights between the two countries.
Bahrain’s Shi’ite majority have been critical of the Sunni monarch’s closer ties with Israel.
Some information in this report comes from Reuters and The Associated Press.