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Israel delegation to visit Bahrain after furore: report

News of visit come after Bahraini delegation travelled to Israel, claiming to send 'message of religious tolerance'.

Members of the group This Is Bahrain

A delegation of Israeli business leaders will travel to Bahrain in January amid a warming of ties between the two countries, according to a media report.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Jerusalem Post that the visit would be a follow-up to this month's Bahraini delegation in Israel.

"The Bahrainis have approved it. It will be a Wiesenthal Center delegation. The idea is to establish some direct contacts, which are not political, but the idea is to start normal contacts," Cooper told the Jerusalem Post.

His comments were published just days after a Bahraini delegation, "This is Bahrain", arrived in Israel with a goal to "send a message of religious tolerance and coexistence", according to local media.

The cross-border delegations come at a time of heightened tensions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Earlier this month, Bahrain joined a chorus of international condemnation against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, warning that the move "threatens the peace process in the Middle East".

This is Bahrain's visit was criticised by social media users, including Bahrainis who said the trip did not represent their feelings.

Bahrain and Israel do not maintain diplomatic relations. Bahraini officials have previously suggested that stronger ties could benefit both countries in confronting their mutual rival, Iran.

Documents released by WikiLeaks in 2011 highlighted Bahrain's contacts with Israel "at the intelligence/security level" and indicated that the Gulf country was "willing to move forward in other areas".


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