28 Nov, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

A former Druze Knesset member expressed his belief that a fairytale story in which the life of an Arab princess was saved opened up the doors to the normalization of relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Ayoub Kara: Secret Meetings to Save Bahrain Princess

In his virtual address to the Israeli-Palestinian Economic Forum on Tuesday, Ayoub Kara, an Israeli Druze who was a member of the Knesset for Likud and served as Minister of Communications, related the remarkable story that took place ten years ago. 

“I believed in 2010 that we had an opportunity to [have] good relations with the Gulf states,” Kara told the forum. “This was the beginning of the process.”

Shaikha  (Princess) Fatima bint Khalifa, the eldest daughter of His Highness Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the former Ruler of Bahrain, became sick in 2010. At the time, Kara was Israel’s Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation. The US invited her to be treated there but she expressed a preference for treatment in Israel. At the time, there were no official relations between the two countries. The royal family’s request was transmitted via Kara and her treatment in Israel was approved by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“In Bahrain, they didn’t really give her a chance to survive,” Kara told The Times of Israel in 2010. “At the end, we received her here, she underwent an operation, and subsequently even spent some time [at a rehabilitation center] in Nesher next to Haifa.”

Many of the details surrounding her illness and treatment were never released to the media but it is believed she stayed in Israel for about two months.

Medical Mercy Leads to Political Connection

In gratitude, Bahraini officials invited Kara to discuss how Israel and the Sunni Arab states could further intensify their cooperation.

“The relationship with the Saudi[-led] coalition is very important to us,” he said after the meeting. “The entire Saudi[-led] coalition wants stronger ties because the dangers they face are the same as Israel. This danger is Iran. We have many things in common today.”