Bahrain Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa told Israel’s Channel 13 journalist Barak Ravid during the United States’ conference on Palestinian economic development that he acknowledged Israel’s history in the Middle East and that the Jewish people deserve a spot in the region.
Ravid asked Al-Khalifa in Manama on June 26 what particular message he has for the Israeli public. Al Khalifa replied that Israel deserves to have peace with more Arab countries than Jordan and Egypt.
“Israel is a country in the Middle East. It is part of the heritage of this region, historically,” Al-Khalifa said. “The Jewish people have a place amongst us.”
Al-Khalifa also said the Palestinians erred in refusing to partake in the conference because they are missing “an opportunity” to help “alleviate the lives and the troubles of people.” He added that Bahrain trusts the U.S. in being an “honest broker” in negotiating peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
On Iran, Al-Khalifa said that the regime in Tehran is “a major threat to the security and stability of the region,” adding that Iran has worsened prospects for peace in the region through their “money and weapons and with soldiers of militias.” If war breaks out in the region, it will be Iran’s fault, Al-Khalifa argued.
“They have been calling for war,” Al-Khalifa said. “They have been attacking ships. They have been targeting tankers. Drone attacks from Yemen. They have been calling for war in the region… this regime only survives with aggression.” He also defended Israel’s “right to defend itself” from Iranian aggression in Syria.
Times of Israel reporter Raphael Ahren wrote on June 26 that even though Israel and Bahrain have yet to officially establish diplomatic relations, Bahrainian officials have been providing “exceedingly warm” treatment to Israeli journalists, including accommodating those that keep kosher.
“In Bahrain, this week at least, I was happy to discover, officialdom does not appear to shy away from using the word ‘Israel’; it features twice on my official conference badge, and no one has batted an eye,” Ahren wrote. “In fact, in a certain way we Israelis journalists have been treated slightly better than our colleagues. While reporters from other countries received press passes, we were given credentials of delegates, which has guaranteed us better access to some of the conference’s events.”
The two-day conference, which started on June 25, featured the U.S., Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf Arab states. White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, who is also President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, proposed $50 billion in investment toward the Palestinian territories and neighboring Arab countries.
The full transcript of Al-Khalifa’s interview can be read here.