DENVER, COLORADO — On the eve of the White House Middle East Peace ceremony in Washington, the speed of normalization between Israel and Bahrain is already accelerating.
On Monday, Ofir Akunis, Israel's minister of Regional Cooperation spoke by phone from his office in Tel Aviv with Zayed Bin Rashid Alzayani, Bahrain's Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, in Manama.
The call — the first between the two senior officials — was in English and lasted about 20 minutes.
At the moment, I’m in Denver for meetings, but later today, I will fly to Washington ahead of tomorrow’s White House ceremony, which I will be covering for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.
As soon as I learned about the call, I contacted Okunis.
“The [Bahraini] minister and I had an excellent conversation — it was very exciting, I can say, for both of us,” Okunis told me.
“We agreed that the economy and private sector drive peace, [so] we will be meeting soon in person and leading business delegations between our two countries.”
“He and I committed to bring peace and prosperity to the Middle East and beyond,” Okunis added.
“It was a very, very warm conversation for something like 20 minutes — it was the first conversation, and it was only the beginning.”
A joint statement, provided to ALL ISRAEL NEWS by an advisor to Akunis, stated that “the ministers congratulated each other on the peace agreement that will be signed tomorrow in Washington and agreed to strengthen relations between the two countries on the basis of ‘peace to prosperity.’”
“Peace To Prosperity“ was the theme of the workshop that Jared Kushner and the Trump administration organized in the Bahraini capital of Manama in the summer of 2019.
Senior U.S., Bahraini, Emirati, Saudi and other Arab finance ministers and business leaders examined ways to advance regional economic cooperation.
They also committed to investing $50 billion to build a thriving Palestinian private economy, creating 1 million new jobs in the West Bank and Gaza, if Israel and the Palestinians make peace.
The Israeli government welcomed the proposal.
The Palestinian leadership flatly rejected it.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.