Israel participates in Bahrain anti-Iran conference amid increasing normalisation
The head of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s counter-terrorism department, Dana Benvenisti, attended the Maritime and Aviation Security Working Group in Manama, in a rare case of an Israeli official visiting Bahrain.
The Manama conference is a follow-up to the February 2019 US-led Middle East Conference in Warsaw, which focused on Iranian influence and alleged sponsorship of terrorism in the region.
The US is trying to form a maritime coalition to secure sea trade routes after a series of attacks on tankers in the Gulf which were blamed on Iran.
Iran denies any involvement. An Iranian tanker was also hit by a missile strike in the Red Sea off the Saudi port of Jeddah earlier this month.
“Aviation and maritime security are at top of the policy agenda in the region,” Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa told the opening session of the conference.
However, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi took issue with the participation of a “Zionist delegation” at the conference, saying, “it’s unfortunate that a country which calls itself Islamic is normalising relations with the Zionist entity [Israel]. Iran condemns this act.”
Hamas also condemned Israel’s participation, saying that “parties who normalise relations with the [Israeli] occupation” are responsible for Israeli acts of aggression against Palestinians.
Over 60 countries are participating in the maritime security conference. Iran was not invited.
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