Jerusalem Chief Rabbi meets Bahrain King at interfaith event

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi meets Bahrain King at interfaith event as Israel normalisation drive gathers pace
2 min read
10 December, 2019
‘The people of the Middle East want peace with Israel and good relations,’ Rabbi Shlomo Amar said during a visit to Bahrain which symbolised the two countries’ warming ties.
Rabbi Amar (L) gave Bahrain's King Hamad (R) 'a blessing from Jerusalem' [Getty]

The Israeli Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Shlomo Amar, concluded a rare visit to Bahrain on Monday by meeting the Gulf kingdom’s King Hamad, in an unprecedented show of public and high-level relations between the two nations.

Amar sent to King Hamad Al Khalifa “a blessing from Jerusalem that will lead to a solid relationship with the State of Israel.”

The senior rabbi was invited by the king to the Gulf nation for an interfaith event, where he also met religious leaders from Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Russia, the United States, Italy, India, and Thailand .

Israel’s foreign ministry and diplomatic officials had organised the visit, including Amar’s schedule and security arrangements, according to the Israeli press.

Amar, who previously served as the Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, expressed hope for strengthened relations between Israel and its Arab neighbours during his visit.

“Middle East nations want peace with Israel, the leadership should promote that without fear,” he said, adding that he hoped next time there would be no need for the intensive preparation.

“The people of the Middle East want peace with Israel, and good relations,” he added.

Though Bahrain and Israel do not have formal diplomatic ties, Gulf Arab states are increasingly normalising relations with the Jewish state to cooperate against a perceived threat from Iran.

In October, Israeli foreign ministry official Dana Benvenisti-Gabay attended a US-led maritime security meeting in a rare formal visit.

Bahrain hosted another US-led conference in June in which US President Donald Trump’s team working on his so-called “deal of the century” for peace in the region rolled out the economic aspects of the long-awaited proposal.

While there was no formal representation from Israel, a number of Israeli businessmen and journalists were invited to attend the event.

During the conference, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa told the Times of Israel that “Israel is a country in the region… and it’s there to stay, of course.”

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