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Israel PM Netanyahu cancels visit to Bahrain, UAE again

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with Bahraini Minister for Foreign Affairs Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani (R) ahead of their meeting at the Prime Ministry Office in West Jerusalem on 18 November 2020. [Israeli Prime Ministry/Handout - Anadolu Agency]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with Bahraini Minister for Foreign Affairs Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani (R) ahead of their meeting at the Prime Ministry Office in West Jerusalem on 18 November 2020. [Israeli Prime Ministry/Handout - Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday cancelled his planned visit to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates for the third time, his office said in a statement.

"Netanyahu very much appreciates the invitations from Crown Prince [of Abu Dhabi], Sheikh Muhammad Bin Zayed and the King of Bahrain, Hamad Bin Issa Al-Khalifa, and the historic peace between our countries," the statement read.

According to the statement, Netanyahu's visit, which was scheduled for next week, has been cancelled due to the halting of all passenger flights in and out of Israel due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper quoted government sources as saying that Netanyahu may have postponed the visit to avoid public criticism that he had violated air travel restrictions in place as part of measures to stop the spread of the virus.

Netanyahu has previously postponed two visits to the UAE and Bahrain due to the pandemic and at the request of Bahrain. He also reduced the length of the planned trips from three days to only a few hours.

Last September, Israel signed a normalisation agreement with the UAE and Bahrain under US auspices.

Last month, Israel appointed Eitan Na'eh, its former ambassador to Turkey, as head of its temporary mission in the UAE as a prelude to establishing a permanent embassy and appointing an ambassador.

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