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Israeli official set to attend Iran-focused maritime security conference in Bahrain

Israel has indirectly confirmed that it is sending a representative to the two-day event to discuss Gulf tensions
Iranian Revolutionary Guards patrol around the UK-flagged tanker Stena Impero anchored off the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas (AFP)

A senior Israeli official is set to attend a conference in Bahrain on Monday to discuss Iran in the context of growing tensions in Gulf waters, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

According to The Times of Israel, a Bahraini source confirmed that a senior foreign ministry official would represent Israel during the two-day event entitled: "Working Group on Maritime and Aviation Security."

The Times of Israel did not reveal the identity of the official, in compliance with an Israeli military censor decree.

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The meeting, to be held in Manama, is the latest event of the so-called Warsaw Process, named after the Polish capital where a US-backed conference on Middle East security was held in February.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with a number of Arab officials, were in attendance at the Warsaw summit.

Israeli officials have attended a number of follow-up events, including in South Korea and the United States, all focused on Iran.

When contacted by Israeli news outlets to confirm the presence of the official at the Bahrain conference, the foreign ministry simply confirmed: "Israel participates in the post-Warsaw process."

Ever-growing tensions

Diplomatic relations with Israel had usually been kept secret in the past due to the Arab League's boycott over the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but Israeli attendance at the Bahrain event marks the latest public showing of warming ties between Israel and Gulf states in recent years.

In June, Bahrain hosted a workshop in which the economic part of a US-crafted "peace plan" for Israeli and Palestine was unveiled.

While Israeli journalists and businesspeople were present, Israeli officials were not in attendance.

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The so-called "deal of the century" has been on the receiving end of scathing criticism for overwhelmingly catering to Israeli concerns, while not addressing Palestinian demands for statehood and sovereignty.

The upcoming Bahrain  conference is set to address the ever-growing tensions with Iran,a country viewed by Israel, the US and a majority of Gulf Arab states as a major foe.

The Gulf has seen a series of incidents involving ships in recent months, while an attack last month on Saudi oil facilities has been blamed on Iran

Iran has rejected accusations that it was involved in the Saudi operation or any attacks on shipping.

Last year, US President Donald Trump dropped out of a 2015 deal between Iran and the international community which had been meant to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Since then, the US has imposed crippling sanctions against Iran.