Eitan Na'eh: The Ambassador of Peace Sent to the Gulf

Illustration by Ali Mandalawi

As the first anniversary of the peace agreement signed between Israel, Bahrain and the UAE will be celebrated in mid-September, the first Israeli ambassador sent to the UAE and Bahrain following the deal comes under spotlight.

Eitan Na’eh was Israel’s first diplomat to take up office in the United Arab Emirates following its normalization deal with Israel, serving as chargé d'affaires of the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi, a position he has held since January.

Last week, he was nominated as Israel’s first ambassador to Bahrain, the same day that Bahrain’s new envoy to Israel presented his credentials to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

In September 2020, former US President Donald Trump announced the Bahrain-Israel agreement had concluded a peace agreement, describing it as a "historic achievement."

Khaled Yousef al-Jalahmah, Bahrain’s first ambassador to Israel, met last week with Lapid in the Knesset and presented him with a copy of his diplomatic credentials.

“The opening of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s embassy in Israel is another step towards true peace in the Middle East,” said Yair Lapid, Israel's Foreign Minister, in a statement following the meeting. 

“Many countries in the region see the strong ties that are being forged between us and the Bahrainis, as well as the brave decision made by the King of Bahrain, His Majesty Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to establish peace with Israel. In the future, other countries that are changing the face of the Middle East will too join the circle of peace.”

Na’eh worked in Abu Dhabi for eight months and his first task was to strengthen the relationship between the two countries at all levels and expand relations with the UAE government, economic entities, the private sector, academia, media and others.

The Bahraini official news agency had highlighted the arrival of the ambassador and the upcoming official opening of the embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain in Tel Aviv, describing it as an important step for developing bilateral relations between the two countries and their peoples.  

The acceptance of credentials was a priority for the Bahraini Foreign Minister, Lapid, Israel's Foreign Minister, and Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Na'eh was born and raised in Kiriat Bialik, north of Haifa. He studied political science and History of the Middle East in Tel Aviv university. He was head of Turkey, Greece and Cyprus dept at the ministry, and was ambassador to Baku/ Azerbaijan, 2001-2005. 

He worked at the National Security Council  as Head of Diplomatic secretariat at the Prime minister’s office and then sent to London in 2013-2016, and as Ambassador to Ankara until May 2018.

Na'eh continued to occupy political and diplomatic positions at the beginning of the current millennium, when he was appointed as Israel's ambassador to Azerbaijan in 2001, and then as director of the foreign policy department in Erzdarjan at its national security headquarters in 2005.

He continued to move among the diplomatic seats of Israel, as he also held the position of Deputy and Acting Ambassador to the Israeli Embassy in the United Kingdom which was then responsible for relations with the UK.

From 2016-2018, after nearly five years without an Israeli envoy to Turkey, Na’eh served as Israel’s envoy to Turkey until he was expelled by Ankara in protest of the deaths of dozens of Palestinians during violent clashes with Israeli forces on the border with the Gaza Strip.

With the start of the current year 2021, Na'eh held the position of Israeli Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, before becoming the first Ambassador of Israel to Bahrain to which he was appointed the past few days.

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