[Boycott - Economic - World]
Organization Starts Petition Drive To Re-Open Boycott Israel Office In Bahrain
Sandeep Singh Grewal, AHN Middle East Correspondent
25 May 2008
Manama, Bahrain (AHN) - An Anti- Zionist group has collected over 100 signatures calling for re-opening of the Israel Boycott office in Bahrain and the effort is still going strong.
Bahrain Society Against Normalization with the Zionist Enemy is requesting the authorities to re-open the Israel Boycott office. Abdulla Malik, general secretary of the society told AHN Media Corp, "The office was set up in 1963 in Bahrain. It was closed after Bahrain signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the U.S. in 2004. We want the office to be re-opened so that it resumes its activities of banning Israeli goods."
He said they sent a letter to the Bahrain Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa regarding the issue, but claims they have not received any response.
"Even the Ministry of Education flouted the rules by asking students to color the Israeli flag in a private school. A group of representatives from Bahrain schools went to Doha where they also met with Zionist group. We have to date received no response from any authority on these meetings," Malik alleged.
According to Bahrain's Foreign policy document on the Palestine situation and peace progress, it holds Israel responsible for the deteriorating, and painful situation in Palestinian lands as a result of its aggressive practices which include- assassinations, the erection of the separation wall, attacking holy places and imposing economic blockades. The policy states that Bahrain has been urging both sides to resume negotiations to finalize restoration of all Palestinian rights through direct negotiations.
The 22-member Arab League was the first to launch the boycott of Israel in 1951, by setting up an office in Damascus, Syria, to ban trade activities with the Jewish state and ban them from operating in the Arab world. "Our office was set up legally but closed down against the public opinion. If the office opens it would clearly indicate Bahrain's stance on the Palestine issue," Malik said.
Lawmakers here had also adopted a law to reopen the office, which would monitor local markets against the Israeli goods. But it is still waiting to be ratified by the authorities.
In October, during the weekly session of parliament, MPs reportedly brandished pictures of a woman being attacked by an Israeli police dog and Israeli policemen holding a Palestinian in custody.
Several parliamentary blocs also lobbied with the authorities for the termination of all contacts with Israel.
Al Wefaq (Conservative Shia) and Al Asala (Conservative Sunni) supported the no-relation policy view. Al Asala bloc had reportedly said that Bahrain's participation in the so called- road to peace, Annapolis summit in the U.S. was a "waste of time and money."
The Shura (Consultative) Council had also denounced the Israeli attacks on civilians in Gaza strip. It labeled the attacks as-"barbaric and heinous."
MPs were also angry because of a meeting between Bahrain foreign minister Shaikh Khalid and his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni in New York during the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly in October last year.
Salafist Al Asala MP Adel Moawada was quoted as saying in the Gulf News, "Bahrain was never mandated by the Arab League to have any contact with Israel. We are not stupid and we do know that only Egypt and Jordan were asked to communicate with Israel."
The society has staged several Anti- Israel protests this year in the Kingdom, first against the Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip in January and then in March when attacks were carried out on civilians in Gaza Strip.
When asked about the claims that Israeli goods were in the Bahrain market, Malik alleged, "The door to Israeli goods is the U.S. Navy fifth fleet which is stationed here. We want the office to be re-opened as by closing it we are sending signs of diplomatic ties with killers."
Bahrain, a close ally to the U.S. hosts its Navy fifth fleet.
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