Bahrain societies flay move to normalise ties with Israel
By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
Nineteen societies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have rapped moves to normalise relations with Israel and called for joint national and regional efforts to abort the US-initiated Broader Middle East project.
"We have monitored with grave concern the latest local, regional and Arab attempts to establish economic, trade and political ties with the Zionist enemy following pressure from the US and as a way to avoid urgent local reforms.
"Unfortunately, Arab countries have responded to the US demands that allow the Zionist enemy to infiltrate the core of the Arab world and end its Arab and international isolation by establishing normal relations," the Islamist, cultural and political societies said in a statement at the end of their meeting in Manama on Tuesday.
"We recently had the invitation from the Tunisian president to the war criminal Sharon to attend the information summit in Tunis in November. Then, Israeli goods were sold in Gulf markets thanks to companies that circumvented the boycott laws.
"We also heard the Israeli officials mentioning that the Zionist entity is about to establish diplomatic ties with 10 Gulf and Maghreb states. Afterwards, Qatar’s foreign minister expressed his country’s intention to set up diplomatic and commercial relations with the Zionist enemy regardless of the developments in Gaza.
"Lately, agencies reported that Saudi Arabia would have trade ties with the Zionist entity after signing trade deals with the US. And now, we hear that Bahrain has lifted its ban on Israeli goods and shut down the boycott office, a move that derides people’s sentiments and challenges their determination," the statement said.
Bahrain last week said that it had dropped its ban on Israeli goods as part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules which call for the exchange of goods between all members. The decision was seen by observers as a prerequisite by the US Congress to ratify the free trade agreement (FTA) signed by the two countries in 2004.
Bahrain downplayed the move saying that it was a mere response to the requirements of international agreements and a cosmetic act that did not mean by any way a normalisation of relations between Manama and Tel Aviv.
The then foreign minister Shaikh Mohammad Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa said that normalisation of diplomatic ties with Israel was not on the table. The NGOs savaged the Arab states for "accepting an entity that the international community in a UN resolution considered a racist state".
"As we condemn the moves to normalise ties with the Zionist enemy, we urge all Bahrainis to resist any attempt to infiltrate, economically or politically, our country. We also urge them to boycott all Israeli and US goods and to abort the broader Middle East project," the societies said.
"All people of honour, parties, NGOs and civil societies should thwart this Zionist conspiracy," the statement said.