Generations of visionary Monarchs in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia sought a means to nurture and solidify the bond between the two kingdoms. They manifested their bond via a physical link – the ‘King Fahad Causeway’, inaugurated in 1986.
Its construction streamlined commerce, strengthened social ties and supported regional defence. It is no surprise then, that as part of His Majesty, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa’s ‘Vision 2030’ programme for the kingdom’s development, an additional construction, the ‘Hamad Causeway’ is currently being planned.
It is an honour to visit the great Kingdom of Bahrain this week – the first official visit by the leader of Israel’s defence establishment, in the Gulf country. Although I did not come with an architect’s blueprint, I did come with the intention of building a conceptual bridge between Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain – the ‘Abraham Causeway’.
Since we are discussing an ‘infrastructural endeavour’, let us look back at the building blocks. Just a little of a year ago, the courageous leaders of Bahrain, UAE, Israel, the US and our partners, drew up the Abraham Accords – the document that reshaped hope in the Middle East. A piece of paper with the scribbles and hopes of leaders, forged new ties between people, and opened the gates for economic growth, tourism, scientific and academic exchanges.
His Majesty, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa took a bold step. In this short period of time, Israel and Bahrain, two small countries with big spirits, signed eight MoUs that touch on finance, agriculture, aviation and other civilian fields, and that will benefit both nations immensely. Just a year ago, Gulf Air flights to Tel Aviv were but a dream – and now I hope to see them filled with visitors.
Our accomplishments are not merely transactional. We are forging a spiritual and cultural bond. It starts with the kingdom’s legacy of tolerance and integration of its small, yet thriving Jewish community, and it has evolved way beyond the island’s borders. A powerful example took place last week – I was deeply moved to hear of the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony hosted by the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Coexistence. As the son of holocaust survivors, such a gesture is so powerful in symbolising the growing closeness between our people.
During this week’s visit, we have taken a historic step and built another layer in our bond. With the blessing of His Majesty, my Bahraini counterpart Minister Nuaimi and I, signed a landmark defence co-operation MoU between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the State of Israel. This agreement formalises our defence relations and establishes a strong framework from which we can develop security co-operation in areas of mutual interest.
From co-operation in counterterrorism, intelligence-sharing, and mil-to-mil engagements, to professional working groups and industrial exchanges – our MoU enables us to secure our nations and defend our common interests, while seeking stability for the region at large.
This agreement deepens our ties and acknowledges our shared vision of peace. And while we may share this vision together with our friends, and with our strongest ally, the United States, not all forces in the region see eye to eye.
It is within this context, that our partnership is more vital than ever.
Our region is becoming increasingly volatile. Organised militias across the Middle East equipped with advanced weapons and funding, are conducting attacks on civilian facilities and targeting innocent lives. These are dangerous escalations that imperil the region’s peace and security.
Just as the State of Israel reserves the right to secure its citizens, assets and territory, so do we stand by our partners and support their right to defend their sovereignty and security.
It is from this position that we can seek peace – in the case of Israel, that is expanding collaboration with our neighbours, deepening ties with Accord-signatories, pursuing new partnerships, and extending our hands to the Palestinians.
As I prepare to depart from the kingdom and look out at the magnificent skyscrapers and beautiful landscapes, I imagine the Causeway. I see two nations shaping their shared future.
Now is the time to work together, to ensure that our people can prosper in peace and stability. Now is the time for the ‘Abraham Causeway’ – a bridge of peace, friendship and security between the State of Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Maybe one day, in the not-so-far future, this bridge will lead us to new destinations.