16:01 GMT12 August 2020
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    Bahrain's move to allow an Israeli delegation to attend a recent UNESCO conference may be seen as a sign of Manama's drive to further develop ties with Tel Aviv.

    The newspaper Haaretz has quoted a source in Washington as saying that ties between Bahrain and Israel are getting warmer even though official bilateral relations are not "around the corner."

    Jonathan Schanzer, of the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a think tank, pointed out that "it makes a lot of sense for Bahrain and Israel to increase their cooperation."

    READ MORE: Reports: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain Voice Support for Morocco Over Row With Iran

    Referring to both countries' negative perception of Iran, Schanzer said that although Bahrain and Israel have yet to get ready for "total normalization", the two countries "are testing the waters and the trend is very clear."

    He described Bahrain as "a bellwether" for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, which, Schanzer recalled, also view Iran as their arch foe while perceiving Israel as their possible partner against Tehran.

    "It seems sometimes like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are using Bahrain – which is allied with them but is smaller and less influential – to do 'trial balloons' regarding foreign policy. It's true with regard to the three countries' rivalry with their neighbor Qatar, and also with regard to Israel," he pointed out.

    READ MORE: Tehran Rejects Manama's Accusations of Plotting Terrorist Attacks in Bahrain

    Schanzer's remarks came after an Israeli delegation visited Bahrain for an international conference organized by UNESCO, an event that will be followed by Bahrain hosting the upcoming 42nd session of the UN agency’s World Heritage Committee, where Israel's representative will also be in attendance.

    In May, Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa supported Israel's strikes on Syria, twitting that Tel Aviv had a right to "defend itself."

    The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) announced at the time that dozens of military targets belonging to the Iranian Quds Forces in Syria had been hit after the Iranian forces allegedly fired 20 rockets at IDF positions in Golan Heights, a disputed area annexed by Israel as a result of the 1967 Six Day War.

    READ MORE: Saudi Arabia 'May Hope Israel Will Do the Job for Them and Fight Iran' – Analyst

    Tehran, however, denied those allegations, claiming that the attack was carried out by Damascus.

    While Iran doesn't recognize the Jewish state's right to exist, Tel Aviv considers Tehran a threat to its security, citing concerns over the Islamic Republic's alleged development of nuclear weapons despite the 2015 Iran deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

    In addition to this, Israel is dissatisfied with Tehran's support for Syria in its fight against terrorist groups. Tel Aviv has repeatedly said that it would not allow Iran to turn Syria, which has been embroiled in a civil war since 2011, into its client state, where it could gain a military foothold.


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