Investment and security top Bennett's agenda in Bahrain

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at palace of Bahrain Crown Prince  credit:  Haim Zach, GPO
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at palace of Bahrain Crown Prince credit: Haim Zach, GPO

During his brief visit to Bahrain, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke of security cooperation against Iran, while a new R&D agreement promises expanded business ties.

Yesterday evening, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett ended a brief visit to Bahrain, during which he held meetings with, among others, with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, his son Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, and several government ministers.

At his meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani, and Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, an agreement on research and development between Israel and Bahrain was announced. The agreement was signed for Israel remotely by Minister of Science, Technology and Space Orit Farkash-Hacohen.

Bennett welcomed the agreement and said that the goal of the two countries now was to give content to the Abraham Accords through trade and economic cooperation between them. The prime minister and the Bahraini ministers talked, among other things, about ways of exploiting the geographical advantages of Israel and Bahrain in the movement of goods between Asia and Europe.

The new agreement calls for the Israel Innovation Authority to work with the Bahrainis on cooperation in research and development and on pilot programs of Israeli companies in areas of high priority for both countries, such as climate technology, energy efficiency, e-commerce, advanced production techniques, and more.

Farkash-Hacohen said at the signing ceremony that Israel's technology industry was a strategic foreign relations asset. "The agreement creates a platform for technological and commercial cooperation, alongside personal acquaintance between people from the two countries. Young Israelis in the Israeli technology industry will come to Bahrain and get to know the local businesspeople," she said.

In its announcement, Farkash-Hacohen's bureau said that talks would begin on an investment protection agreement between the finance ministries of the two countries. This agreement will enable the flow of investment between the countries to grow by creating a framework of certainty and security for businesses, and will be an important tool for strengthening economic ties.

In Bennett's meetings in Bahrain, security and strategic issues were discussed at length. Bahrain, which has a Shi'ite majority, suffers from Iranian encouragement and support for opposition groups, some of them terrorist organizations. Because of this, it is much more ready for security ties with Israel than the UAE. Last month, Minister of Defense Benny Gantz signed a security cooperation agreement with Bahrain, and among other things it was agreed that an IDF liaison officer would be stationed in Bahrain.

Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa told Bennett that the historic achievement of the Abraham Accords made it possible to envision "a broader Middle East, free of disputes, based on principles of mutual respect, understanding, and joint responsibility for the security of the entire region."

Bennett also met the commander of the US Fifth Fleet, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper. The Fifth Fleet's home port is in Bahrain, and the Israel Navy recently participated in exercises with the Sixth Fleet and navies of other countries, including Saudi Arabia.

In an interview with Bahraini newspaper Alayam, Bennett said, "Israel and Bahrain are both dealing with major security challenges that stem from the same source - the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is undermining stability in the whole region. It supports terrorist organizations that operate in your area and in ours, with one aim: to destroy the moderate states, that are concerned for their peoples, for stability and for peace, and put in their place bloodthirsty terrorist organizations. We will not allow this. We are fighting Iran and its proxies in the region every day, and we will assist our friends in strengthening their peace, security and stability as much as required."

Bennett did not rule out direct Israeli military assistance to friendly countries in the Gulf. "Israel is a significant regional military power, and has unprecedented operational capabilities in the air, at sea, and on land. We are keen to expand cooperation with our friends in the region in order to strengthen its stability and security," he said.

On the US moves to return to the nuclear agreement with Iran, Bennett said, "President Biden has been a genuine friend of Israel for over fifty years, and he understands our security needs very well. We think that an agreement with Iran will be a strategic mistake, because it will enable Iran to keep its nuclear capabilities and receive hundreds of billions of dollars that will fuel its terror machine, which hurts so many countries in the region, and around the world."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on February 16, 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at palace of Bahrain Crown Prince  credit:  Haim Zach, GPO
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at palace of Bahrain Crown Prince credit: Haim Zach, GPO
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