Bahrain denies openness to allow imports from Israeli settlement

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Bahrain will not allow the import of Israeli goods produced in settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, state news agency BNA reported, rejecting comments made by the Gulf state’s trade minister earlier this week.

Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani, Bahrain’s Minister for Industry, Commerce and Tourism, expressed openness to settlement imports, adding that Manama would not distinguish between products produced in Israel or in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights.

“The minister’s statement was misinterpreted and that the ministry is committed to the Bahraini government’s unwavering stance regarding adherence to the resolutions of the United Nations,” BNA said recently, quoting an official source from the ministry of industry, commerce and tourism.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates formalized ties with Israel on September 15, in a US-sponsored deal. Gulf states said the deal was made possible by Israel’s shelving of a plan to annex West Bank settlements. Most world powers deem them illegal.

The West Bank is a landlocked territory near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, bordered by Jordan to the east and by Israel to the south, west and north. The West Bank also contains a significant section of the western Dead Sea shore.

According to European Union (EU) guidelines, when exported to EU member countries, settlement products should be clearly labelled as such. Last month, the Trump administration removed US customs distinctions between goods manufactured within Israel and in settlements.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said his Bahraini counterpart, Abdullatif Al-Zayani, also denied the industry minister’s comments in a phone call.

“The alleged comments totally contradicted his country’s (Bahrain) supportive position of the Palestinian cause,” a statement from Mr. Maliki’s office said.

Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital, but the issue of Jewish settlements on land captured by Israel in 1967 has long been a stumbling block in the peace process, which now seems impossible.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has made it even more difficult for Palestinians by providing full support to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.