Lapid inaugurates the Israeli embassy in Manama
The office is located on the 29th floor of the Bahrain World Trade Center. Israeli Foreign Minister signposts a "historic, big step" in the Gulf. Manama declares it an "unequivocal" sign of dialogue, peace and diplomacy in the region. First direct commercial flight and signing of several bilateral agreements between the two countries.
The official ceremony was held yesterday in Manama during the official visit of Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who stressed the "historic, great step taken today by Israel in the Gulf.
"May our peoples - he added - live forever in peace and prosperity." His local counterpart, Abdullatif al Zayani, spoke of an "unequivocal signal" about the "determination" to continue in the wake of diplomacy and dialogue.
The representation is located on the 29th floor of the Bahrain World Trade Center and the first to hold the post of ambassador is long time diplomat Eitan Na'eh, although the appointment has yet to be confirmed. The office is expected to begin regular operations by the end of the year. Bahrain's diplomatic envoy to Israel took up his post last month.
Prior to the inauguration ceremony, Lapid met with Monarch Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the royal palace, the first public face-to-face between the Gulf monarchy's highest office and a senior official of the Jewish state. He then held talks with the prime minister and the crown prince.
The Israeli foreign minister arrived in the Arab country yesterday morning. Shortly after his landing, the first direct commercial flight between the two nations took off from Tel Aviv International Airport. In addition to the opening of the embassy, Lapid signed a series of agreements with his counterpart on various fronts including water resources, environment, health and sports activities.
During the meeting, Bahraini officials reiterated their commitment to a "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In response, Lapid also said he was a "devout supporter" of the same solution, but then clarified that he was speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the entire executive branch.
"I think - he declared - that it is the right solution for the peoples of Israel and Palestine. But not everyone in our government thinks the same way."
Bahrain is a Gulf monarchy ruled by a Sunni dynasty in a reality in which the majority of the population (at least 60-70%) is Shiite and has long been asking for constitutional changes, social and economic rights. In 2011, in the wake of the Arab Spring, there have been riots that the King of Bahrain - allied with Washington and supported by Riyadh - has repressed thanks to the support of armed troops sent by Saudi Arabia.