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Last Updated:[29-10-2009 09:01:43 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Bahrain MPs Plump for Snapping Ties with Israel

tradenews Despite strong opposition from the government, the Bahraini lawmakers have passed a bill to totally disconnect with Israel which includes travel and trade. The bill needs clearance by the consultative council, a 40-member body appointed by the king to get implemented.

The AFP has reported that the draft has given nod to impose prison sentences ranging from three to seven years and monetary penalty of about $27,000 to anyone who deals with Israel. The proposed new law bans all form of relations with Israel or its people at all levels.

Besides, the businessmen will lose their licenses for a period of 10 years if they are caught for trade exchanges with Israel. Any Bahraini travelling to or through Israel will also have to face prosecution under the new bill if implemented. It even forbids the establishment of diplomatic or consular representation between the two countries.

Many officials felt that such a law was not needed since the Bahrainis had vowed solidarity with the Palestinian people to clinch peace deal with Israel. The ban is seen as an obvious demonstration of discontent with Israel and its allies for continuous breach in peace process of the region.

The Deputy Foreign Secretary Hamad al-Amer said there was no need for the law as 'Bahrain opposes any normalization with Israel before Palestinians regain their rights'. Currently, Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania are the only Arab League states with formal ties with Israel.

The bill is unlikely to be shaped into law as the upper house which has to give the final clearance is against such legislation. Notwithstanding, Nasser al-Fadhallah, a conservative lawmaker described that it would be an embarrassment for the government if it postponed or blocked the bill as it would resist the will of the Bahraini people.

The predominantly Shiite Persian Gulf state has a very small Jewish population, and Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo, a woman of Jewish origin is the country's current ambassador to the US and Canada. In 2005, Bahrain closed its office in compliance with the Arab League-boycott of Israeli goods, as demanded by the FTA with the US.

By Jose Roy

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