December 5, 2020
DUBAI (Reuters) – Bahrain will not allow the import of Israeli goods produced in settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, state news agency BNA reported, disavowing comments made by the Gulf state’s trade minister earlier this week.
Bahrain’s Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani had voiced openness to settlement imports, adding that Manama would make no distinction 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 late on Friday, quoting an official source from the ministry of industry, commerce and tourism.
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates formalised ties with Israel on Sept. 15, in a U.S.-sponsored deal billed by the Gulf states as being made possible by Israel’s shelving of a plan to annex West Bank settlements. Most world powers deem them illegal.
Under European Union guidelines, settlement products should be clearly labelled as such when exported to EU member countries. The Trump administration last month removed U.S. customs distinctions between goods made 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 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 is now in stalemate.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has made it even more difficult for Palestianians by providing full support to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi in Dubai and Nidal Al Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by Gareth Jones)