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Bahrain among three Gulf states 'seeking partnership' with Israel over coronavirus outbreak

The Gulf states sought help from a coronavirus centre in Israel [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 May, 2020

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Half of the GCC have reached out to Israel for assistance amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to reports.
Three Gulf states have reportedly requested assistance from Israel to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a report by The Jerusalem Post.

The report comes amid growing concerns of normalisation between GCC states and Israel, which is officially boycotted by most Arab states.

Only one of the three countries was identified, with Bahrain reported to have opened channels of communication with Israel to receive information and assistance in fighting the coronavirus.

"Bahrain and another Gulf state reached out to Sheba Medical Centre at Tel Hashomer, expressing interest in the hospital's response to the pandemic, and the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United Nations said publicly that her government would be willing to work with Israel on a vaccine," the report said.

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The director of the centre, Yoel Hareven, who declined to name the other two states, said: "We offered them any help they need, even if it's connecting doctors or nurses, or sending teams to them, sharing logistical knowledge."

"Whatever help we can give our neighbours - we will do it happily," Harevan said.

One of the two unnamed countries is "central and different" in the Gulf and is "not one we're used to hearing about", Harevan said, noting that it requested to maintain anonymity because it is not known to have ties with Israel.

"There are a lot of things happening above and below the surface," Hareven revealed.

The comments come amid perceived state-initiated campaigns across the economic, religious and cultural spheres to encourage warmer relations with Israel.

Last week, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said he's "very optimistic" about warmer and stronger ties between Israel and Gulf states. He said this would most likely happen collectively as opposed to one Arab nation making the first step.

"Allies with America could also be allies with each other; that's the natural progression of the relationships," Friedman said.

Egypt and Jordan are so far the only Arab states to have full diplomatic relations with Israel, but there have been signs of warming ties with Gulf states.

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