Bahrain’s first ambassador to Israel, Khaled Yousif al-Jalahma, has arrived to take up his post following last year’s agreement between the countries to normalise diplomatic ties.
A statement carried by the state-run Bahrain News Agency said: “The Ambassador’s arrival, and the upcoming official opening of the Bahraini Embassy in Israel, mark an important step in developing relations between the two countries and their peoples.”
The new ambassador tweeted: “The opportunity to fulfill His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s vision of peaceful coexistence with all nations is a privilege that I will hold in high regard.”
He later tweeted photos of himself and his wife landing at Ben Gurion Airport, saying they were both “very excited.”
Israel and Bahrain agreed in 2020 to establish diplomatic relations as part of the Abraham Accords, a United States-led initiative that has also seen Israel normalise ties with the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said in a statement: “The Bahraini Embassy in Israel, as well as the Israeli Embassy in Bahrain, have a central role in the strengthening of the bilateral relations and serve as yet another milestone of the vision of the peace accords signed in 2020.”
Al-Jalahma previously served as deputy ambassador to the U.S., among other senior posts in the Bahraini diplomatic service.
Bahrain is a close U.S. and British ally, hosting the U.S. Fifth Fleet as well as a British military base.
Palestinian leaders have criticised Arab states for normalising ties with Israel while it continues its military occupation of Palestinian lands, saying such deals threaten to cement the status quo.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization and Hamas have described the Bahrain-Israel deal as “another treacherous stab to [the] Palestinian cause.”