Israel’s diplomatic push in the Persian Gulf has become increasingly public after years of covert contacts, Reuters reported.
“I myself received a personal invitation to Bahrain,” Israeli Economy Minister Eli Cohen said in a radio interview.
Cohen told Army Radio the invitation was to a conference in the first quarter of 2019 in the realm of technology and high-tech, in which he claimed Israel is certainly a leader. He did not say whether he planned to attend.
Asked to elaborate, an Israeli official briefed on Cohen’s affairs said the event to which he had been invited was the Startup Nations Ministerial conference on April 15, a forum for public policymakers to discuss how to promote entrepreneurs.
The official, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter, said the invitation originated with the Manama government and was relayed to Israel by Switzerland.
Officials in Manama did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Switzerland’s ambassador to Israel, Jean-Daniel Ruch, said in an emailed statement that his embassy had no knowledge of any such invitation.
Israeli media has reported the regime is seeking to establish official relations with Bahrain.
According to Israeli Channel 2, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his willingness to open diplomatic relations with Bahrain, during an unannounced visit of Chadian President Idriss Deby to Al-Quds on Sunday, Al Jazeera reported.
In a news conference with Deby, Netanyahu said they had discussed the changing attitudes of some Arab countries toward Israel.
"This was a manifest in my recent visit in Oman," he said, referring to his trip last October, where he met Sultan Sayyid Qaboos at the royal palace in the coastal city of Seeb near the capital, Muscat.
"There will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon," the Israeli prime minister added.
Netanyahu's trip was followed by the attendance of Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz at an international transport conference in Oman earlier this month, where he pitched a railway project that would link the Persian Gulf countries to the Mediterranean via Israel.