Israel has maintained a secret diplomatic office in Bahrain for 11 years through a front company disguised as a commercial consulting firm, Walla News reported on Wednesday night.
The report revealed the covert diplomacy between Israel and Bahrain which was only revealed during the Abraham Accords in Washington last month and finalized this week. The existence of the diplomatic mission in Bahrain was under an Israeli military gag order for 11 years.
Following the signing on Sunday in Manama of a joint communiqué establishing official diplomatic ties, an Israeli official submitted an official letter to the Bahraini Foreign Minister official requesting a “genuine embassy” in Manama. However, as an Israeli official told Walla, in reality, all Israel has to do “is change the sign on the door” as the embassy has already been in place for over a decade via intrigue, foreign passports, and fake Linkedin profiles.
Negotiations on a possible undercover diplomatic mission began in 2007 in meetings between Israel’s then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni, and her Bahraini counterpart, Khaled Bin Ahmad al-Khalifa. The two forged a close but discreet relationship, laying the groundwork for the opening of the Israeli diplomatic mission in Manama. A decision by Bahrain’s rival Qatar at the time to close Israel’s diplomatic office in Doha in the wake of Operation Cast Lead served as the impetus for Manama’s go-ahead to Israel.
A “commercial consulting firm” called The Center for International Development, which served as a front for Israel’s diplomatic office was registered in Bahrain on July 13, 2009. The company’s name was changed in 2013 but wasn’t named in the report “for security reasons.” In order to avoid leaks about the covert mission, only a small group of Bahraini officials were aware of it.
The front company’s website boasts of its consultancy services to Western companies exploring non-oil investments in the Gulf, especially in the fields of medical technology, renewable energy, food security, and IT.
The front company was very “picky” about who they hired – only Israeli diplomats with dual nationality. Two of the shareholders as listed in public records are Brett Jonathan Miller, a South African national who was appointed in 2013 as Israel’s consul general in Mumbai and Ido Moed, a Belgian national who currently serves as the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s cyber coordinator. One of the board members is Ilan Fluss, a British national and the current deputy director-general of the economy in Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
The Israeli diplomats maintained cover stories, supported by “unconvincing LinkedIn profiles.”
Israeli officials told Walla that the company/diplomatic mission truly did assist hundreds of business transactions by Israeli companies in Bahrain while simultaneously serving as a secret communications channel between the two countries.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)