Bahrain MPs, govt clash over Israel trade plans
12 October 2005
MANAMA - Bahrain’s parliament yesterday rejected a decision by the government to lift a ban on Israeli goods as part of a trade deal with the United States.
The legislative body also adopted a law to reopen an office responsible for monitoring local markets against Israeli goods. The office was recently closed by the government after US pressures.
The parliament’s decision still has to go to the country’s upper house, the shoura council, and must be approved by the king before it goes into effect.
Last month, former foreign minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak announced Bahrain had officially ended its boycott of Israeli goods, a shocking decision to many Bahrainis who, like many ordinary Arabs, are angry at Israel’s occupation of Arab land and its treatment of Palestinians.
“Our normalisation with Israel means if we buy their goods, they will use the returns to buy weapons to kill our Palestinian brothers,” lawmaker Isa Al Motawa’ said.
Newly appointed Foreign Minister Shaikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said on Monday that the decision to lift the ban did not mean the government planned to normalise relations with Israel.
Government officials said the parliament’s proposal would probably not affect the free-trade agreement (FTA) which Bahrain signed last year with the United States, the first between Washington and a Gulf Arab country.