A Historic Visit

Israel Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is warmly welcomed by the King of Bahrain

By Yossi Aloni | | Topics: Bahrain, Abraham Accords
Israel Foreign Minister Yair Lapid greeted by the king of Bahrain.
Israel Foreign Minister Yair Lapid greeted by the king of Bahrain. Photo: Yossi Aloni

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Thursday became Israel’s first statesman to visit the Kingdom of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, as well as the first Israeli minister to be received in public by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

During his one-day visit, a year after the signing of the Abraham Accords, Lapid inaugurated the Israeli embassy in the capital Manama.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with his Bahraini counterpart, Abdullatif Al Zayani

The full text of Lapid’s speech:

The Honorable Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, honored guests, As-salamu alaykum, Shalom alechem.

In both Hebrew and Arabic, this saying has a double meaning: A greeting when meeting one another and a blessing for a lifetime of peace and cooperation. Today, these two meanings come together as one. We’re meeting in the first official visit of an Israeli Minister to the Kingdom of Bahrain. We’re meeting to officially sign the peace agreements between us. To turn this peace into an active friendship. Economic, security, diplomatic, and civilian.

I want to thank the King of Bahrain, His Royal Highness Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, for his leadership and inspiration without which we would not be here today. I also want to thank the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Sheikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, for his wisdom and vision.

The meeting we finished just a short while ago was warm and optimistic. It outlined the path forward for our relations. In the Bahraini national anthem, you sing that Bahrain is a symbol of harmony. We will do everything to turn the partnership between Bahrain and Israel into a harmony, of cultures and religions, and primarily, a harmony between people.

In his speech upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, our late Prime Minister Menachem Begin said: “Peace is the beauty of life. It is sunshine. It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family. It is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth. Peace is all of these and more and more.”

Today, we are bringing that “more and more.” The official opening of embassies which will symbolize the diplomatic cooperation between us. More cooperation in the fields of tourism and technology, culture, energy and environmental protection. More agreements. In the fields of health and water.

We are both tough peoples. We made life flourish in the heart of the desert. We did this because we know how to adapt to a changing reality. Today, it is our responsibility to build for our children a future of prosperity and progress.

Bahrain, like Israel, carries an ancient history together with remarkable capabilities in the new technological world. The first Gulf Air flight which departed today to Tel Aviv, is taking us all to places which in the past, we were only able to dream of. Our opportunities are shared.

Our threats are also shared, and they aren’t far from here. The global battle today isn’t between right and left, or between Judaism and Islam or Christianity. The global battle today is between moderates and extremists. A culture of life, against a culture of death and destruction.

Together with our friends in the Gulf, we are leading a brave coalition of moderates. A coalition that is looking forward and creating a prosperous future of stability and tolerance. We are living in a global reality. Whoever isolates, will disappear. Whoever cooperates, will lead the world, and will lead the Middle East.

This is an historic moment, and a reminder that history is made by people who know history, who love and respect history, but are also ready to change and make history. History is made by people who prefer the future over the past. Who prefer peace over war. Who prefer connection over isolation.

The Book of Proverbs, (Chapter Three, Verse 18) says: “It is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it, and all of its supporters are happy.” The Tree of Life has been standing firm here in Bahrain for over 400 years. Its roots are deep, and it towers high. May the partnership between us grow deep roots and give fruit for many good years to come.

We already have a model for that partnership: For over a hundred years, the Jewish community of Bahrain has been a symbol of coexistence, tolerance and harmony. Proof that Bahrain’s values are in deeds and not only words.

I want to thank His Majesty King Hamid bin Isa Al Khalifa and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Prime Minister once again for the privilege of being here today. Together we are taking another step forward in our relations.

I want to thank the team at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Director-General Alon Ushpiz, Head of Mission in Manama Itay Tagner, and to everyone involved in building the foundations for the connection between Bahrain and Israel.

Thank You, Shukran, As-salamu alaykum.

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