Bahrain has hosted the first celebration of “Israel Independence Day” in the Gulf region.
The event took place at the Israeli embassy in Manama, according to media reports, and was attended by hundreds of Bahraini officials and representatives of civil society organisations.
Heads of major companies from Israel also attended the celebration.
Independence Day is the national day of Israel, commemorating the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. The day is marked by official and unofficial ceremonies and observances.
But Palestinians regard it as a tragic day in their history and consider it as a commemoration of their ethnic cleansing and dispossession.
“I’m very excited, very honoured; really the people present here demonstrate the depth and breadth of our relationships, and the opportunities they have to make the lives of our people – Bahrainis and Israelis – better, and to make the Middle East a better place,” Ambassador Eitan Na’eh, Israel’s first ambassador to the kingdom, told The Media Line.
Na’eh added: “Bahrain is leading, together with another Abraham Accord country – the UAE – in promoting peace, security, and stability in the region; and when you see the people here you know where they are coming from: the labour fund ‘Tamkeen’; the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB); the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense; the military; businessmen; investments, it’s wonderful.”
Sheikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, undersecretary for international affairs at the Bahraini Foreign Ministry, said in his speech at the event: “I’m delighted to be here today with you this evening to celebrate the Israel Independence Day, side by side with the government and people of the State of Israel.
“We realise that this is a landmark occasion as Israel hosts its first national celebration in the Gulf.”
He added that Israel and Bahrain’s mutual interests “are well served through the Abraham Accords.” He credited the “vision” of signing the agreement with Israel to Bahrain’s King Hamad.
“For a more peaceful and more prosperous region, our constructive diplomatic relations are based on a sound and wise foundation, which has been codefined in the recently signed agreement. There is an abundance of potential in the Bahraini-Israeli relationship in a wide variety of fields,” Sheikh Abdulla also said.
In September 2020 Bahrain and Israel agreed to establish full diplomatic relations. The agreement was signed at the White House in Washington, D.C.
In March 2021, Bahrain appointed Khaled Yousif al-Jalahma as its first ambassador to Israel. In September 2021, Israel opened a resident embassy in Manama.