JERUSALEM: A delegation of Israeli officials flew to Bahrain on Wednesday morning for talks meant to hammer out the details of the two countries’ formal normalization treaty after last week’s signing in Washington of a “Declaration of Peace” between the two governments.
The flight followed a phone call Tuesday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa during which the two leaders reportedly agreed on having the delegation make the trip.
The high-level delegation is led by Prime Minister’s Office Acting Director General Ronen Peretz and Foreign Ministry Director General Alon Ushpiz, and includes senior National Security Council officials.
A group of Israeli business leaders is also part of the delegation, official sources reveal.
Bahrain’s state-run media did not immediately acknowledge the flight. Officials on the island off the coast of Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The US Embassy in Manama similarly did not respond to a request for comment.
An Israeli official confirmed the existence of the flight on condition of anonymity.
The group flew on Israir flight 111, the Israeli airline’s first foray over Saudi airspace.
Flight data showed and the Airbus A320 landed at Bahrain International Airport after a nearly three-hour flight from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport.
According to the sources, the plane had to circle inside Israel a few times as final over-flight permission was obtained from Jordanian and Saudi authorities.
During Tuesday’s call between Netanyahu and Salman, the crown prince “underscored the importance of securing regional and international stability and enhancing efforts to support peace in the region,” according to the Bahrain local media.
Salman further noted that “the agreement signed at the White House on September 15 will strengthen regional security, stability and prosperity.”
Netanyahu and the future king of the tiny island nation also “reviewed potential areas of bilateral cooperation and relevant regional and international developments,” according to the agency.
Wednesday’s Israir flight flew over the Saudi kingdom, which has opened its airspace to Israeli flights to both Bahrain and the UAE.