Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu says he will visit Bahrain soon

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would visit Bahrain ‘soon’ at the invitation of the Gulf state’s Crown Prince Salman Al-Khalifa. (AP)
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Updated 24 November 2020

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu says he will visit Bahrain soon

  • ‘We are both excited to bring the fruits of peace to our people and countries in such a short time’

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he would visit Bahrain “soon” at the invitation of the Gulf state’s Crown Prince Salman Al-Khalifa.
Bahrain followed the United Arab Emirates in normalizing ties with Israel in a deal brokered by the United States that marked a strategic Middle East alignment against Iran. The shift has enraged the Palestinians who have demanded statehood before any such regional rapprochement.
“We are both excited to bring the fruits of peace to our people and countries in such a short time. That’s why he (Al-Khalifa) invited me to come soon for a formal visit in Bahrain and I will do this happily,” Netanyahu said in a statement about a phone call he held with the crown prince.
A first Bahraini delegation visited Israel last Wednesday.
Since September, the Trump administration has brokered agreements with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan toward normalizing their relations with Israel. An Israeli delegation traveled to Sudan on Monday.
Although White House officials have said more countries are considering normalizing ties with Israel, further developments appear unlikely before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20 and establishes his administration’s policy on Iran.
Biden has said he would rejoin the nuclear accord that world powers signed with Iran if it first resumed strict compliance with the deal, and would work with allies to strengthen its terms.


Egypt, UAE resume first Qatar flights since 2017

Updated 18 January 2021

Egypt, UAE resume first Qatar flights since 2017

  • An EgyptAir flight took off from Doha to Cairo, making it the first commercial flight in three and a half years between both countries
  • It was followed shortly after by the arrival of an Air Arabia flight from Sharjah in the UAE

DOHA: The first direct flights since 2017 between Qatar and its former rivals Egypt and the UAE took to the skies on Monday, following the end of a regional crisis.
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) joined Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in cutting ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of being too close to Iran and of backing Islamic extremists, charges Doha denies.
The quartet agreed to heal the rift at a Gulf summit on January 5 in Saudi Arabia, after a flurry of diplomatic activity by outgoing US President Donald Trump’s administration.
The first commercial flight from Qatar to Egypt in three and a half years, an EgyptAir service to Cairo, took off from windswept Doha airport.
It was followed shortly after by the arrival of an Air Arabia flight from Sharjah in the UAE.
The resumption of flights from Doha to Cairo will simplify travel for the large contingent of Egyptians living in Qatar.
As many as 300,000 Egyptians call Qatar home, according to official statistics, but many were unable to travel home during the crisis.
In May 2020, frustrated Egyptians protested outside the compound housing Egypt’s then-empty embassy.
Following the demonstration, 18 repatriation flights operated via neutral Oman to comply with Cairo’s ban on direct air traffic.
A Qatar Airways plane was due to also make the trip to Cairo later Monday.
Flights between Doha and Saudi Arabia, which has also opened its land border to Qatar, resumed on January 11.
The row complicated regional travel, divided families and raised costs faced by Qatari businesses.
Mustafa Ahmed, 38, an Egyptian technical engineer, said he was “very happy.”
“With direct flights, life will be easier, especially for families and children, avoiding the torment of changing airports and planes and waiting for hours for transit flights,” he told AFP.
Egyptians in Qatar work in a number of sectors including education, health care and engineering.
Thousands of Qatar’s majority-expatriate workforce, however, have lost their jobs as a result of a downturn caused by the coronavirus epidemic.