Products manufactured or grown in the West Bank can now be exported to Bahrain under the ‘Made in Israel’ label.

In another sign of Arab leaders abandoning the Palestinian cause and going against international conventions, Bahrain has announced it will treat Israeli products made in the occupied territories like others from elsewhere in the Jewish state. 

On a visit to Israel this week, Bahrain’s commerce minister, Zayed R. Alzayani, indicated that Israeli products and services produced in the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank might not require special labels to be imported in the Gulf state.  

“There are no restrictions or special treatment or special rules. We have started a new chapter with Israel,” he told reporters. 

For years, human rights activists have tried to discourage private enterprises  from operating and doing business in the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem. 

Bahrain’s decision comes just days after a similar announcement by the United States, which rolled back a decades-old policy to clearly indicate a product produced or manufactured in the West Bank is marked as such. 

Israel occupied Palestinian land in 1967. The United Nations and most of the world sees it as an illegal occupation - Palestinians hope to include the West Bank and East Jerusalem in a future state of their own. 

A lot of the effort to dissuade Israeli businesses from working in the occupied Palestinain territories has focused on requiring their products to be labelled as manufactured or produced in the West Bank. 

While this hasn’t stopped Israeli companies from exporting to foreign markets, the labels allow customers a choice of passing on a product coming from illegally occupied land. 

The European Union still requires that Israeli products made in the West Bank specifically mention where they are coming from. 

Last year, the European Court of Justice, EU’s top legal authority, upheld this labelling requirement and asked member states to ensure that retailers are letting customers know about the origin of the products. 

In February this year, the UN’s Human Rights Council even published a database of 112 companies which are connected to Israeli settlements. 

“While the release of the database will not, by itself, bring an end to the illegal settlements and their serious impact upon human rights, it does signal that sustained defiance by an occupying power will not go unanswered,” UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk said at the time. 

“Without these investments, wineries, factories, corporate supply and purchase agreements, banking operations and support services, many of the settlements would not be financially and operationally sustainable. 

“And without the settlements, the five-decade-long Israeli occupation would lose its colonial raison d'être,” he said.

Right-wing Jewish settlers have built more than a hundred residential communities and businesses on farm land that once belonged to Palestinian Arabs. 

Around 700,000 Jewish settlers live in the settlements, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to annex and make part of his country.  The West Bank is home to 2.5 million Arabs. 

Besides sustaining the illegal settlements, these businesses rob cash-strapped Palestine from a major source of income. 

“In 2018, the Palestinian Authority put the total value of lost tax revenue from these businesses at $360 million since the year 2000, an amount equivalent to 35 percent of the Palestinian deficit at that time,” said the International Trade Union Conferderation (ITUC) which opposes such businesses.

In the last few months Bahrain, along with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have normalised ties with Israel - going back on a years old commitment that the Arab world will not recognise the Jewish state until the Palestinians have a state of their own. 

Source: TRT World