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Herzog accepts credentials of six new ambassadors, including from Bahrain

September 14, 2021

By Greer Fay Cashman

President Isaac Herzog hosted a multiple diplomatic event on Tuesday when he accepted the credentials of six new ambassadors: Khaled Yousef al-Jalahma of Bahrain; Mauricio Escarero of Mexico; Veikko Kala of Estonia; D. Manuel Gomez Acebo of Spain; Kyriakos Loukakis of Greece; and Filipino Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, who was appointed by Pope Francis as Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem, Palestine and Gaza.

Although the ambassador of Bahrain was the last to present his letters, he was the one with whom Herzog spent the most time, given that his presentation came almost exactly to the day of the first anniversary of the Abrahamic Accords, and that al-Jalahma is first ambassador of his country to serve in Israel.

Both Herzog and al-Jalahma made formal statements following their private meeting. Speaking in Hebrew, Arabic and English, Herzog said “Brave states take brave steps. The Abraham Accords were the fruit of both vision and power. The growing partnership between our countries is a model for the whole Middle East, and I hope that other states in our region will be inspired by your example.”

To emphasize the need for a joint stand against a common enemy, Herzog referenced Iran, saying: “At this point in time, as new, credible reports are coming in of Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons capacity, it is more important than ever to be united in our struggle against extremist forces working to undermine stability and peace in our region.”

In response, al-Jalahma said in Arabic: “Peace is the strategic choice of the Kingdom of Bahrain… His majesty the king believes that dialogue, understanding, and building confidence are lofty principles and main foundations for achieving cooperation between nations and peoples… I am confident that this historic step will lay a solid foundation for relations between our two countries, based on the values of tolerance and coexistence between peoples, beliefs, and religions.”

As yet, he has not found a suitable residence and is still looking for the right house, he said, but meanwhile, he and his wife are experiencing “generous hospitality, and enjoying good food. We’re having a mix of everything.”

“Wait till you start on the gefilte fish,” Herzog told him. “Then we’ll know you’re serious.”

Al-Jalahma said that he hoped to see more Israelis coming to Bahrain, and forecast that once tourism opens up, there would be a flood of Israeli tourists opting to come.

Herzog was curious as to what al-Jalahma had been taught about Israel in his youth. “Were you hostile or indifferent?” he asked.

“Hostile,” was the reply, but not actively so. “We had no dialogue – no understanding of what Israel was.”

Such meetings always conclude with a toast. With all the other ambassadors, the toast had been champagne, but because Muslims do not drink alcohol, the final toast was in orange juice.

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