On Friday, Iran condemned the visit of Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to Bahrain and the inauguration of his country’s embassy in Manama, speaking of an “indelible stain” on the forehead of the Gulf kingdom.
Lapid described his visit, the first for an official from his country to Bahrain, as “historic.” It came about a year after an agreement to normalize relations between Bahrain and Israel, the archenemy of the Islamic Republic, which Tehran criticized.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh condemned “the Bahraini authorities’ reception of an official from the Zionist entity occupying Al-Quds Al-Sharif,” saying in a statement that this was “against the will of the public opinion of the noble and free Bahraini people.”
The Israeli minister met in Manama, King Hamad bin Isa Al Thani, and his Crown Prince, Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad, in the first public meeting of the Bahraini monarch with an Israeli official.
Lapid posted a picture on his Twitter account of his meeting with the Bahraini king, describing it as “historic”, while his Bahraini counterpart Abdul Latif Al-Zayani confirmed that his country would open an embassy in Israel “by the end of the year.”
In mid-September 2020, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed an agreement to normalize relations with Israel in a ceremony hosted by the White House under former US President Donald Trump.
This move, which later included Morocco and Sudan, was criticized by Iran.
In his statement, Khatibzadeh recalled the “humiliating position of the Bahraini authorities represented in announcing the normalization of relations with the Zionist entity.”
He denounced any “preparation for the consolidation of the destructive Israeli presence in the region,” saying that this position is “a disgrace that will never be erased from the forehead of the Bahraini authorities.”
There is strong opposition to normalization in Bahrain, which is ruled by a Sunni family, inhabited by a mixture of Sunnis and Shiites, and has a long history of an active civil society, with which the authorities dealt harshly in the past decade.
Demonstrators burned tires outside Manama early Thursday, while users tweeted using the hashtag Bahrain_Rejects_Zionism on social media.
Bahrain severed ties with Iran in early 2016, accusing it of supporting the Shiite-dominated opposition in the kingdom.
© 2021 AFP