US, Israeli and Bahraini flags festooned the tarmac before take-off. Ben-Shabbat, one of the key Israeli officials involved in negotiations with Bahrain, said ahead of take-off that the visit will translate plans to actions and concrete agreements" with the signing of a range of deals involving finance, investment, trade, tourism, communications, technology and agriculture.
Another Israeli official said the visit represents the official establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries with the sides expected to sign a joint statement establishing full diplomatic relations.
The decision to establish ties with Israel has outraged the Palestinians, whose leadership has blasted the Bahraini move, and a similar Emirati deal, as a betrayal and an undermining of the Arab stance that recognition of Israel should come only after Palestinians achieve an independent state of their own.
As part of the deal to normalise relations, the two Gulf Arab states and Israel will eventually establish embassies and exchange ambassadors. The Israeli official said the Israeli embassy was expected to open in Bahrain in the coming months.
Similar to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain is expected to open its embassy at some point in the city of Tel Aviv, where most foreign embassies are located because of Jerusalem's contested status.
Bahraini and Israeli officials have held numerous conversations since announcing their intention to establish full ties. Sunday's face-to-face meetings, however, are seen as another step toward normalisation.
Meanwhile, Israel and the UAE have already signed a number of business, banking and intergovernmental agreements.
Bahrain and the UAE signed the agreement to normalize relations with Israel in a ceremony at the White House on Sept. 15. Egypt and Jordan are the only other two Arab states to sign diplomatic treaties with Israel, in 1979 and 1994, respectively.
The accords made public what had been a gradual strengthening of quiet ties between Israel and several Gulf states forged in recent years over a shared concern over regional rival Iran. Other Arab countries could follow suit, with analysts and insiders pointing to Sudan, Oman and Morocco as possibilities.
The trip to Bahrain on Sunday also came as UN arms embargoes on Iran expired despite American objections. Bahrain, like several other Gulf Arab nations, views Iran as the most-serious threat to its security in the Persian Gulf.
The Israeli delegation is slated to fly back to Tel Aviv later on Sunday, while the Americans will head to the UAE before flying to Israel on Tuesday.
Last month, the first known commercial flight between the two countries brought a delegation of Israeli officials to Manama to discuss cooperation between Israel and Bahrain following the signing of an agreement to normalise ties.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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