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Israel and Bahrain sign an agreement to establish diplomatic relations

MANAMA, Bahrain – Israel and Bahrain signed an agreement to establish diplomatic relations in Manama on Sunday, a month after a historic ceremony at the White House.

Why it matters: The “Joint Communication on the Establishment of Peace and Diplomatic Relations” is an interim agreement on the way to a comprehensive peace treaty, paving the way for both sides to open embassies and sign more co-operation agreements.

Game status: Finance Minister Stephen Mnuchin and White House envoy Avi Berkowitz attended the signing with Bahrain’s foreign minister and Israel’s national security adviser.

  • Mnuchin and Berkowitz arrived in Manama with an Israeli delegation on the first direct flight of an Israeli plane to Bahrain ̵
    1; El Al Flight 973, a reference to the telephone code of Bahrain.
  • Israeli and Bahraini officials held talks for several hours and signed eight memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on visas, trade, agriculture, investment, direct flights, finance and investment.
  • Mnuchin stepped aside as officials signed memoranda of understanding along with the diplomatic relations agreement.

What are they saying: “Today is only the first step for Israel, Bahrain and the United States and an important step in strengthening stability in the region. We have a great opportunity in the areas of security, trade, travel and many other areas,” Mnuchin said.

What next: Minutes after the signing ceremony, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official handed a diplomatic note to the Bahraini Foreign Minister with a formal request to open an Israeli embassy in Manama. Israeli officials told me they wanted to open the new embassy before the end of the year.

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