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Bahrain MPs ban all contact with Israel

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Bahrain’s lawmakers pass a bill to ban any contact with Israel despite opposition from the government, introducing prison sentences for anyone breaking the law.

The draft law bans ‘any contact or relations with Israel’ and forbids ‘the establishment of diplomatic or consular representation’ between the two countries, AFP reported.

During the Tuesday session, MPs also approved jail terms of three to seven years and fines of 10,000 Bahraini dinars ($27,000) for offenders.

The Tuesday’s approval, however, did not receive a warm welcome from the government.

Abdel Aziz al-Fadhel, minister for consultative committee and parliamentary affairs, told MPs during the debate that the bill ‘constitutes interference by the legislative body in executive matters’.

Deputy Foreign Secretary Hamad al-Amer said there was no need for the law as ‘Bahrain opposes any normalization with Israel before Palestinians regain their rights’.

The bill, which remains pending clearance by the king-nominated consultative council before becoming a law, would forestall further efforts by Manama to persuade other Arab countries into normalization of ties with Israel.

The plan seems to be targeting any renewal of the informal meetings that have taken place between Bahraini and Israeli leaders.

The Bahraini government have defended the contacts, arguing they were for the benefit of Palestinians.

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