Bahrain called for the establishment of a Middle East association that would include Israel and Iran.
“Why don’t we all sit together even if we have differences and even if we don’t recognize each other?” Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa told the London-based, Arabic-language daily al-Hayat, according to a report in Thursday’s Guardian newspaper. “Why not become one organization?”
He said Israel should be a member, together with Iran and Turkey. “This is the only way to solve our problems,” he said.
Bahrain, an island nation lying across the Persian Gulf from Iran, for years has resisted Iranian efforts to intervene in its politics. Both nations have Shiite Muslim majorities.
Bahrain leans toward the West and has low-level ties with Israel. The Bahraini royal family, which is encouraging democratization, recently appointed a Jewish woman as ambassador to Washington, a first in the Arab world.