Israel's Netanyahu Says He Will Pay a Visit to Bahrain Soon

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that he spoke with the crown prince of Bahrain and would visit the Gulf state soon, a month after the two countries established formal diplomatic relations.

Bahrain's foreign minister visited Israel last week in a mark of the warming ties between the two countries following the signing of U.S.-brokered accords in September. In October, the two countries established formal ties, and signed a series of agreements to promote bilateral cooperation.

Netanyahu said in a statement released on social media that he spoke with Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad about “the fact that we can bring the fruits of peace to our peoples and to our countries in a very short time.”

The prime minister said the crown prince “invited me to come in the near future for an official visit to Bahrain, and I will do this on your behalf," referring to Israeli citizens.

In the past several months, Israel has signed treaties to normalize ties with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, the first Arab states to do so in decades. But the deals orchestrated by the Trump administration have outraged the Palestinians, who have long counted on a united Arab stance that recognition of Israel should come only after they achieve an independent state.

On Monday, Israeli media reported that Netanyahu visited Saudi Arabia and met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Israel and Saudi Arabia have fostered clandestine security cooperation over their shared interest in countering regional rival Iran.

These breakthroughs reflect a changing Middle East in which Israel and the Gulf countries view Iran as a mutual threat that eclipses the decades-old conflict with the Palestinians.

Until this year's accords, Egypt and Jordan were the only Arab states to recognize Israel after signing peace accords in 1979 and 1994, respectively.