Israel delegation cancels trip to Bahrain on security grounds

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An Israeli delegation composed of businessmen and government officials has cancelled its participation in a conference set to take place in Bahrain.

The group, which was planning to attend the gathering organised by the Global Entrepreneurship Network on April 15, said in a statement it was withdrawing from the summit on security grounds.

“While we advised the Israeli delegation they would be welcome, they decided this morning not to come due to security concerns and a wish not to cause disruption for the other 180 nations participating,” the organisation’s president Jonathan Ortmans told Reuters news agency.

The cancellation came after the kingdom’s parliament issued a statement rejecting the visit, and some protests against it in the streets of the capital Manama.

While Israel does not maintain any diplomatic relations with any of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, analysts say some of the countries are not opposed to normalising ties with Tel Aviv.

In October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a surprise visit to Muscat following an invitation by Oman’s Sultan Qaboos.

Shortly after that visit, Israeli Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev attended a judo tournament in Abu Dhabi, where the Israeli anthem was also played.

Other Israeli officials who recently visited the Gulf include Communication Minister Ayoub Kara, who gave a speech during a telecommunications conference in Dubai on October 30.

Most recently, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Oman’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, called on Arabs to take initiative and make Israel overcome “fears for its future” in the region.

“I believe that we Arabs must be able to look into this issue and try to ease those fears that Israel has through initiatives and real deals between us and Israel,” bin Abdullah told a discussion panel on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum earlier in April.

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