Manama disavows comments made by Gulf state's trade minister earlier this week in which he had voiced openness to settlement imports, outraging Palestinians.

Bahrain's Trade Minister Zayed Rashid al Zayani had stoked controversy by saying Manama would make no distinction between products produced in Israel or in the occupied West Bank and occupied Golan Heights.
Bahrain's Trade Minister Zayed Rashid al Zayani had stoked controversy by saying Manama would make no distinction between products produced in Israel or in the occupied West Bank and occupied Golan Heights. (Reuters)

Bahrain will not allow the import of Israeli goods produced in settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, state news agency BNA has 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 settlement imports, adding that Manama would make no distinction between products produced in Israel or in the occupied West Bank and occupied Golan Heights.

"The minister's statement was misinterpreted and that the ministry is committed to the Bahraini government 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.

READ MORE: Did Bahrain just recognise Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank?

Bahrain-Israel ties

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates formalised ties with Israel on September 15 in a US-sponsored deal billed by the Gulf states as being made possible by Israel's shelving of a plan to annex occupied West Bank settlements. 

Most world powers deem them illegal.

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

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

READ MORE: Are the UAE and Bahrain embracing an Israeli vision of the Middle East?

Palestinian reaction

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.

Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital, but the issue of Jewish settlements on land captured and annexed by Israel in 1967 has long been a stumbling block in the peace process, which is now in a stalemate.

US has made it even more difficult for the Palestinians by providing full support to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

READ MORE: Israel forces a million Palestinians into poverty as UAE normalises ties

Source: Reuters