PLO accuses Manama of contradicting UN resolutions after a Bahraini minister said Israeli imports won’t be subject to distinctions between products made within Israel and those from illegal settlements in occupied territory.
Palestinians have criticised a decision by Bahrain to allow imports from Israel that Manama said will not be subject to distinctions between products made within Israel and those from illegal settlements in occupied territory.
Wasel Abu Youssef of the Palestine Liberation Organization said on Thursday that Manama's decision contradicts "international and UN resolutions."
Youssef urged Arab countries not to import products from within Israel either in order to prevent it "stretching into Arab markets to strengthen its economy."
His reaction came after Bahrain's Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid al Zayani said, "We will treat Israeli products as Israeli products. So we have no issue with labelling or origin."
Under European Union guidelines, illegal settlement products should be clearly labelled as such when exported to EU member countries.
The Trump administration last month removed US customs distinctions between goods made within Israel and in illegal settlements.
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Bahrain and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of tourism on Wednesday during Zayani’s first-ever visit to Israel.
"The tourism openness with the State of Israel within the framework of the declaration of support for peace concluded between the two parties will have a great impact on enriching the tourism sector and supporting it between the two countries," Zayani said.
The Bahraini minister signed several agreements in different fields, including aviation and the economy.
READ MORE: Israel, Bahrain formalise diplomatic ties at special ceremony in Manama
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today with Bahraini Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani:— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) December 2, 2020
"These are wondrous days. This is the day when we realize peace, because of the courageous decision made by King Hamad."https://t.co/ciZLgIk1Hx pic.twitter.com/D7VbBWrhOr
Palestinian aspirations damaged
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates formalised ties with Israel on September 1, in a US-sponsored deal billed by the Gulf countries as being made possible by Israel's shelving of a plan to annex occupied West Bank settlements.
Most world powers deem them illegal.
The stateless Palestinians hope to create their own independent country in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, but the issue of Jewish settlements on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War has long been a stumbling block in the now-stalemated peace process.
They now fear that the warming ties between Gulf states and Israel, along with Trump's strong support for Israel, have badly damaged their aspirations.
It was not clear what other Gulf states' positions on imports from the settlements were. But an Israeli winery that uses grapes grown on the occupied Golan Heights said in September that its labels would be sold in the UAE.
READ MORE: Israel forces a million Palestinians into poverty as UAE normalises ties
Trade worth around $200 million
Israel expects trade with Bahrain worth around $220 million in 2021, not including possible defence and tourism deals.
Zayani said Bahraini carrier Gulf Air was tentatively scheduled to begin flights to Tel Aviv on January 7, with shipping to follow.
"We are fascinated by how integrated IT and innovation sector in Israel has been embedded in every facet of life," he said.
He played down speculation in Israel that its citizens visiting Bahrain could be at risk of reprisals for the assassination last Friday of a top Iranian nuclear scientist, which Tehran blamed on Israeli agents.
"We don't see any threats, and therefore we don't see any requirement for additional security or special treatment for Israelis," he said.
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