Gulf Daily News | 28 October 2009
MPS BAN ISRAEL LINKS
By MOHAMMED AL A’ALI
MANAMA: MPs yesterday voted to jail for up to five years any Bahraini who deals directly with Israel.
They pushed through a proposed new law banning any form of relations with Israel or its people at all levels — government, business or private.
Penalties would also include fines of up to BD10,000 and businessmen dealing with Israel, selling or promoting its products would lose their licences for up to 10 years.
The law would also resurrect the Israeli Boycott Office, closed to make way for the Free Trade Agreement with the US.
It would also ban the government by law from setting up any diplomatic mission in Israel.
Any Bahraini travelling to or through Israel would also face prosecution under the proposed law.
MPs backed the bill despite powerful objections from the government, which said it was unconstitutional and in breach of the FTA.
Officials told MPs that patriotic Bahrainis would not deal with Israel anyway, so no law was necessary.
MP Jalal Fairooz said: "The motivation is that steps are being taken by certain countries to allow certain talks to be held with Israeli officials.
"Israeli delegates have managed to participate in events in Arab countries with no treaties with Israel."
Bahraini officials visited Israel in July in an official capacity for the first time to collect five of their nationals Israel was deporting after seizing them on a ship bound for the Palestinian territory of Gaza, blockaded by Israel.
Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania are the only Arab League states with formal ties with Israel.