'Israel is very nice': Bahraini royal visits Tel Aviv
A Bahraini prince has visited Tel Aviv and met with an Israeli minister, in the latest sign the Gulf state could normalise relations with Israel.
Prince Mubarak Al Khalifa on Sunday met with Israel's communications minister Ayoub Kara, who announced the royal would visit the country's legislative body.
"I openly met for the first time in Tel Aviv with Bahraini Prince Mubarak Al Khalifa to strengthen the ties between the two countries. On Monday, I will have the honour of hosting him at the Knesset," Kara said on Twitter, accompanied with an image of the pair.
The prince told Israeli daily Maariv that his visit to Israel was unofficial, but said he hoped relations between the Gulf state and Israel would improve.
"I have come here for a private visit. My best friends in London and Paris are Israelis. I came here to visit a friend," he said.
"Israel is very nice to me. I am here for a 10-day visit," he said, adding that Bahraini authorities were unaware of the trip.
The visit comes amid speculation that Bahrain could become the first Gulf state to normalise relations with Israel.
In December, a Bahraini interfaith delegation visited Israel amid widespread demonstrations and condemnation over Washington's controversial plan to move its Israel capital to Jerusalem.
Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has reportedly said he has grown "tired" of Arab states' boycott of Israel and called for diplomatic ties to be established between the two countries.
King Hamad reportedly told a leading US-based rabbi that Bahraini citizens were free to visit Israel.
Israel's ministry of foreign affairs tweeted in support of the Kings comment's, before swiftly deleting the praise.
Gulf states' deep distrust of Shia power Iran is shared with Israel and has recently helped thaw relations.