Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bahrain parliament wants to renew Israel boycott

One step forward, one step back.

Bahrain's parliament, where Islamists are strongly represented, is pressing the Gulf Arab emirate's government to reopen the country's Israel Boycott Office, which was closed two years ago under pressure from Washington. Michael Freund writes in The Jerusalem Post:

"Prior to its closure, the boycott office had overseen government efforts to bar entry to Israeli-made goods in accordance with the Arab League's economic and trade embargo against the Jewish state.

At a meeting held late last week, the legislature's committee on foreign affairs, defense and national security also called for an end to all formal contacts with the Jewish state.

"Now that the committee has agreed on reopening the office, we request the Foreign Ministry to support the decisions by the representatives of the people and to put an end to all forms of contact between Bahrain and the Zionist entity," committee chairman Adel al-Mouawda said, according to Gulf News.

"The authorities should also allow the re-opening of the Israel boycott office and ban any form of communication with the Zionist entity," he added, following a meeting with Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmad al-Khalifa.

The US and Bahrain signed a free trade agreement in September 2004. It was ratified by Congress in December 2005 and went into effect the following year once the Bahraini government finalized various changes to its trade legislation. The US conditioned the deal on Bahrain's removal of restrictions on trade with the Jewish state, and Bahraini officials assured Washington that they would cancel the anti-Israel embargo and close down the Israel Boycott Office.

But the move sparked opposition among Bahraini legislators, particularly among the sizable Islamist bloc in parliament, which has been outspoken in its criticism of any moves to normalize relations with Israel.

Read article in full

Bahrain names Jewish ambassador to Washington

No comments: