'Gulf states want good relations with Israel'

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister says Gulf states want good relations with Iran and Israel, but Iran is more of a threat right now.

Ben Ariel ,

Flag of Bahrain
Flag of Bahrain

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, recently suggested that the Gulf states were interested in relations with Israel.

The comments came in an interview on March 31 with the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV that was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

According to Al Khalifa, the goal behind the Gulf states' decision to cut ties with Iran and to designate Hezbollah as a "terror organization" was to send Iran and its satellites in the region a message that "we are serious in confronting them."

When asked whether Iran was more dangerous than Israel to the Gulf states, Al Khalifa stated that the Gulf states "wish to have good relations with both," but that the danger they are facing now comes from Iran which, he said, is “our biggest problem at this point in time.”

Bahrain, which in 2013 became the first Arab country to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, last week published a list of 68 Islamist groups it classified as "terrorist", and that list yet again included Hezbollah.

Al Khalifa’s comments with regards to Israel are interesting, as they come amid reports about Israel having contacts with the Gulf states.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in mid-February at the Munich Security Conference in Germany that Israel was carrying out secret contacts with Arab countries in the Persian Gulf.

And last month it was reported that a top-level Israeli delegation that included a senior political figure visited Saudi Arabia, though further details could not be divulged.