Bahrain Opposition Rejects Israel Normalization, Calls to Resist

DUBAI (Reuters) -
The cities of Muharraq (foreground) and Manama (background), the capital of Bahrain.

Bahraini opposition groups have said they reject a decision by the Gulf state to normalize relations with Israel, with a leading Shiite cleric on Sunday calling on the region’s people to resist.

Cleric Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, living in Iran, said he was against normalization between Arab countries and Israel, in a statement published by dissolved Bahraini opposition party al-Wefaq, a group close to Qassim.

The accords between Israel and the UAE last month, and between Israel and Bahrain on Friday, go against the will of the people, he said.

“There is a great divergence between the rulers and the ruled in thought, mind, aims and interests. Governments are experiencing a psychological defeat and want to impose it on the people, and the people have to resist this defeat,” Qassim said.

A joint statement by a group of Bahraini political and civil society associations, including the Bahrain Bar Association, on Sunday stood against the deal.

“What results from normalization will not enjoy popular backing, in line with what generations of Bahrainis have been brought up on in terms of adherence to the Palestinian cause,” the statement said.

The head of Bahrain’s highest court ordered judiciary employees not to criticize government policy or express opinions harming national unity, al-Bilad newspaper reported on Sunday.

Bahrainis have previously criticized their government’s engagements with Israel, including last June’s conference in Manama to launch a U.S.-led $50 billion economic formula for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Parliament last April joined social media calls to stop Israeli business and government officials attending an international entrepreneurship conference. The delegation did not attend.