Bahrain’s king receives Israeli FM in landmark visit

Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad meets Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Manama, Bahrain, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. (Israeli Government Press Office via AP)
1 / 3
Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad meets Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Manama, Bahrain, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. (Israeli Government Press Office via AP)
Bahraini King Hamid receives Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Manama, Bahrain, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. (Israeli Government Press Office via AP)
2 / 3
Bahraini King Hamid receives Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Manama, Bahrain, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. (Israeli Government Press Office via AP)
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al-Zayani meets his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid during opening of Israel’s embassy in Manama on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. (Twitter/@yairlapid)
3 / 3
Short Url
Updated 01 October 2021

Bahrain’s king receives Israeli FM in landmark visit

Bahraini King Hamid receives Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Manama, Bahrain, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. (Israeli Government Press Office via AP)
  • It is the first high-level visit by a senior Israeli official since the signing of a historic agreement to establish diplomatic ties last year
  • Lapid will inaugurate Israel’s embassy in Manama

LONDON: Bahrain’s King Hamad and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid discussed increasing cooperation on Thursday during the highest level Israeli visit since the two countries established relations last year.
Bahrain and Israel signed a US-brokered agreement, known as the Abraham Accords, last year, along with the UAE, Sudan and Morocco, formally normalizing relations with the Jewish state.
King Hamad welcomed the opening of the Israeli embassy in Manama and said the signing of the agreements “is an important historical achievement on the road to achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and meeting the aspirations of its peoples for security, stability and prosperity,” Bahrain News Agency reported.

He also said peace is a strategic option for Bahrain, and that the kingdom’s vision and approach are based on strengthening the values of understanding, dialogue, cooperation, peaceful coexistence, tolerance and rapprochement among peoples.
King Hamad said his country is keen to support all efforts to achieve peace, stability and development in the interest of all.
During the meeting at Sakhir Palace, the king thanked the US for its role in reaching peace agreements and its efforts to advance peace efforts in the region for a more prosperous and stable future.
“His Majesty’s leadership and inspiration have led to true cooperation and our meeting outlined the path forward for our relationship,” Lapid said on Twitter after meeting the king.
Lapid, who landed at Bahrain’s international airport in an Israir plane with an olive branch painted on its nose, also met Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Hamad, held talks with his Bahraini counterpart Abdullatif Al-Zayani.
“We talked about the cooperation between our countries and about taking the official peace between us and turning it into an active, economic, security, political and civic friendship,” Lapid tweeted following his sit-down with Al-Zayani.

Al-Zayani and Lapid also held a news conference, during which they signed a number of memorandums of understanding — ranging from cooperation in environmental conservation to sports.
“Your visit builds on the considerable progress we have already made... and underlines once again our shared desire to spread peace, stability, and cooperation across the Middle East and achieve genuine and lasting security and prosperity for its peoples,” said Al-Zayani.
Bahrain reaffirmed its commitment to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he added.
Lapid said that he too was “a devoted supporter of the two-state solution” but stressed he was not speaking on behalf of the government.
“I think it’s the right solution for the people of Israel and the Palestinians as well. Not everyone in our government thinks the same,” he said.
He also said that the opening of embassies “will symbolize diplomatic cooperation between us.”

“Our opportunities are shared. Our threats are also shared, and they aren’t far from here,” Lapid said in remarks to reporters, apparently alluding to Iran.
Touring the Bahrain headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which has faced off Iranian vessels amid tensions over Tehran’s regional aims, Lapid said: “Our three countries work together because we have similar interests in the region.”
“When we speak about peace, we need to remember that peace must be protected from those who would harm it,” he added, according to his office.
The Fleet said on Twitter that Lapid and his hosts discussed regional maritime security cooperation.

Lapid’s office said he and his Bahraini counterpart signed deals on cooperation in medicine, health care, sports, and on water and environmental conservation. Lapid also inaugurated Israel’s embassy in Manama.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson said: “We see Bahrain as an important partner, on the bilateral level but also as a bridge to cooperate with other countries in the region.”
Separately, the first Gulf Air commercial flight touched down in Tel Aviv, launching a twice-weekly direct connection. 
(With Reuters and AFP)


Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation
Updated 56 min 30 sec ago

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation
  • A Beirut court rejected the last of the suits preventing Tarek Bitar from questioning top officials

BEIRUT: The probe into last year’s deadly Beirut port blast has been cleared to resume after being suspended for more than a month on legal claims against its lead investigator, judge Tarek Bitar, a judicial source said.
A Beirut court rejected the last of the suits preventing Bitar from questioning top officials on Tuesday.
“They have reversed the decision that had led to the suspension of the probe and he can now resume his work for sure,” Nizar Saghieh, head of the Legal Agenda, a research and advocacy organization, told Reuters.
The resumption could be temporary should further legal complaints be filed, he said.
The investigation into the Aug. 4, 2020, blast that killed more than 215 people, injured thousands and destroyed large swathes of the city has made little headway amid pushback from powerful factions, some of whom lead smear campaigns and filed multiple suits against Bitar.
The leader of the Iranian-backed, armed Shiite Muslim political movement Hezbollah has repeatedly said he wanted Bitar removed from the case and the row over him has spilled over into government, with Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s cabinet unable to meet since Oct. 12.
Many Lebanese are angry that more than one year on from the blast no senior official has been held accountable for the country’s worst peace-time disaster as it slips into political and economic meltdown.
Bitar has sought to question senior politicians, including former ministers and members of parliament, since July but nearly all have spurned him.
He is the second judge to take charge of the investigation after a legal complaint against the partiality of his predecessor Fady Sawan saw him removed in February.


Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4
Updated 07 December 2021

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

BASRA: At least four people were killed and 20 wounded in an explosion in Iraq's southern city of Basra, police and hospital sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Police are still investigating the cause of the blast, which took place in the city centre, near a main hospital. The explosion set fire to at least one vehicle and damaged a minibus.
One police source said that an initial investigation showed that a motorcycle rigged with explosives could have been the cause of the blast. 


UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022
Updated 07 December 2021

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022
  • The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported

DUBAI: The UAE government will transition to a four-and-a-half-day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday forming the new weekend starting Jan. 1, 2022 for all federal departments, state news agency WAM reported. 
The new system will be applied in all federal government entities with working hours from 7:30 a.m. till 3:30 p.m., it added.
Working hours on Fridays will start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 12 noon, with the possibility of flexible working hours or work from home options during those days. Friday sermons and prayers will be after 1:15 p.m. all year long in the UAE. 
The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported.


UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
Updated 07 December 2021

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
  • It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country
  • The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used

DUBAI: UAE rulers witnessed the launch of a new 50-dirham banknote on Tuesday, in celebration of the country’s 50th National Day. 
The initiative comes in honor of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, and the country’s first generation of rulers to commemorate their dedication and historical role in uniting the country.
It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country.
“We see in this issuance the new phase that UAE will enter, and a renewed pledge to continue its growth path. The occasion also allowed us to express our appreciation and gratitude to our founding fathers by issuing a new AED50 banknote to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the UAE,” said Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of the UAE. 
The front of the new banknote features a portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed on the right, and the memorial picture of the founding fathers after signing the union document. 
Meanwhile, the back side includes a picture of the late Sheikh Zayed signing the union agreement as well as illustration of the Etihad Museum, which witnessed the establishment of the union and the raising of the UAE flag for the first time.
According to state news agency WAM, the new banknote will be available in Central Bank branches and ATMs ‘in the near future’.
The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used.
Polymer banknotes are said to be more durable and sustainable than traditional cotton paper banknotes, lasting two or more times longer in circulation. They can also be completely recycled, thus reducing their environmental footprint.


Syria says fires extinguished at Latakia’s port following Israeli ‘aggression’

 Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 07 December 2021

Syria says fires extinguished at Latakia’s port following Israeli ‘aggression’

 Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
  • Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria

CAIRO: Fires caused by an Israeli “aggression” at Syria’s Latakia port on Tuesday had been extinguished, leaving material damage, but the status of any casualties was unclear, Syria’s state media reported.

Five explosions rocked the port city after an Israeli “aggression” hit the port’s container yard, sending fire trucks racing to the site, Syrian state TV said.

Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon’s Hezbollah have deployed over the last decade to support President Bashar Assad.

The Mediterranean port of Latakia is the country’s main port, through which food and other crucial supplies flow into war-torn Syria, and is close to Russia’s main air base of Hmeimim.