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Bahrain king 'tired of Arab boycott of Israel'

Bahrai King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 September, 2017

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Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has reportedly told a leading US-based Jewish rabbi he would like his country to formally establish ties with Israel.

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa has reportedly grown "tired" of Arab states' boycott of Israel and called for diplomatic ties to be established with Israel.

The king also told a leading US-based rabbi that Bahraini citizens were free to visit Israel, the Jerusalem Post claimed.

The king reportedly made the comments to Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the head of US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, during a multi-religious event.

Cooper and his partner Marvin Hier met with King Hamed at the centre and discussed the opening of a museum for religious tolerance in Bahrain's capital Manama towards the end of the year.

Critics of the project say the move would the ignore sectarian rhetoric used by some of Bahrain's political establishment towards dissidents, particularly those from teh country's Shia Muslim majority.

Bahrain is not the only Gulf Arab state looking to normalise relations with Israel. Last week, reports emerged that a secret meeting was held between a leading Saudi royal and senior Israeli officials in Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also confirmed that Israel was enjoying the "greatest relations ever" with the Arab world, even without a peace accord with Palestinians.

In June, leaked emails of the UAE's ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba's revealed that Abu Dhabi had established secret links with Israel.

The emails showed a "growing link" between the UAE and pro-Israel think-tank, Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

One of FDD's senior councillors John Hannah "continued to exchange" a series of e-mails with Otaiba in which the two emphasise the positive relations between UAE officials and the pro-Israel think tank.

Last year, Bahrain hosted a delegation of American Jews at a ceremony to mark the Jewish Hanukkah holiday.

A video of the event - taken by an attendee - circulated widely on social media as it showed Bahraini men in local kaffiyeh attire attending the party with Orthodox Jews.

Although it was unclear whether the attendees had any affiliations with Israel, the video prompted condemnation from the Palestinian movement Hamas.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Hamas said it was "amazed and deplored" that Bahrain hosted "a Zionist, racist and extremist Jewish delegation and danced with them in a disgraceful spectacle".

In the statement, Hamas urged Bahrain to end the move towards normalising relations with Israel.

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