Bahrain Backtracks on Imports from Yehuda and Shomron

DUBAI (Reuters) —
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani looks on as he delivers joint statements with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting in Yerushalayim, November 18, 2020. (Menahem Kahana/Pool via REUTERS)

Bahrain will not allow the import of Israeli goods produced in Yehuda and Shomron, 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 imports from the region, adding that Manama would make no distinction, allowing products from there to have labels saying “Made in Israel.”

“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.

Under European Union guidelines, products from Yehuda and Shomron should be clearly labeled as such when exported to EU member countries, though it is not required. The Trump administration last month removed U.S. customs distinctions between goods made within Israel and in Yehuda and Shomron..

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.

Meanwhile on Sunday, El Al signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Bahraini flag carrier Gulf Air, which will allow for direct flights between Tel Aviv and Manama for the first time in history, according to media reports.

Gulf Air will start flying the Manama-Tel Aviv route on January 7.

The signing took place during the visit of Al Zayani in Yerushalayim last week. The memorandum was signed by El Al chairman David Brodet and by Al Zayani, who is also chairman of state-owned Gulf Air.

El Al recently signed a similar MOU with Abu Dhabi -based Etihad Airways.

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