Bahrain says it will not allow imports from Israeli settlements

Al-Jazeera  /  December 5, 2020

Gulf state disavows earlier comments made by trade minister who said it had no issue with goods produced in settlements.

Bahrain will not allow the import of Israeli goods produced in settlements in illegally occupied Palestinian territory, state news agency BNA reported on Saturday, 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 goods produced in Israel or in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights.

Al-Zayani was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency that Bahrain “will treat Israeli products as Israeli products … so we have no issue with labelling or origin”.

“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 reported 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 September 15 under a United States-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 the plan, which was decided without the Palestinians, illegal.

US allows imports from settlements

Under European Union guidelines, settlement products should be clearly labelled as such when exported to EU member countries.

Last month, the Trump administration removed US customs distinctions between goods made within Israel and in settlements.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said his Bahraini counterpart 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 al-Maliki’s office said.

Israel expects trade with Bahrain to be worth around $220m in 2021, not including possible defence and tourism deals.

Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the occupied 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 at an impasse.