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Bahraini MPs Say No to Normalization with Israel | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Dubai, Asharq Al-Awsat- Bahraini MPs have threatened to summon their incumbent foreign minister for questioning following his call to set up a regional organization that would include Israel, and the next session of the Bahraini Parliament is expected to be an occasion for a fresh escalation against the minister.

The Bahraini parliamentarians’ threats come in the wake of a call by Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmed al-Khalifa in statements he made in New York to set up “a regional organization that would include the Arab countries, Israel, Iran, and Turkey.” In this respect, the foreign minister stressed that the organization should include all the countries in question and that it should transcend ethnic origins and religions because “the Middle East is the cradle of almost all the sacred religions,” as he put it.

In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the chairman of the Bahraini Parliament foreign affairs and defense committee, Sheikh Adil al-Muawadah, stated that if his country’s Parliament “has self-respect then it must not let the foreign minister’s call pass without summoning him for questioning,” and he affirms that several MPs will be presenting a motion to summon the foreign minister for questioning over his persistent rapprochement with Israel.

According to Sheikh Al-Muawadah, the successive statements made by Bahrain’s foreign minister about normalizing relations with Israel “are not made spontaneously.” He says: “No, I would say that there is no Arab foreign minister who would dare call for such a policy line without green light from authorities higher up. Nonetheless, as MPs we would say to the minister in question: Assume responsibility for the results of your diplomacy that is seeking normalization of relations with the Israeli entity.”

As a matter of fact, this is not the first time that the Bahraini Parliament has confronted Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed al-Khalifa. Relations between the two sides had already reached crisis point when Bahraini MPs accused their country’s diplomacy of attempts to normalize relations with Israel, even though the foreign minister has repeatedly denied the accusations.

Minister Al-Khalifa has already affirmed in a past interview with Asharq Al-Awsat that his country will not normalize relations with Israel. He also stressed that Bahrain was committed to the Arab peace initiative announced by the Saudi monarch at the Beirut Arab summit, and that a Bahraini normalization would come within the Arab initiative that offers normalization for peace.

For its part, the Bahraini “Association Against Normalization” has expressed surprise at this Bahraini Government call and voiced dismay at “the successive statements by Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, aimed at normalizing relations with the Zionist entity, despite popular and parliamentarian rejection of any move likely to soften positions on the usurping entity.” The secretary general of the association, Abdullah Abdul-Malak, says that the foreign minister “is continuing to belittle the position of the MPs, who have repeatedly expressed their rejection of normalization with the Zionist entity, and that of the Bahraini people, in all its strata and civil institutions, who have expressed their continuous support for the right of the Palestinians to struggle against the Zionist occupation.” He adds that the foreign minister’s call for establishing an organization that would include Israel, in addition to Iran and Turkey, is “a clear expression by the Bahraini Government’s UN representative of the wish to normalize relations with the entity and it is, for that matter, a violation of the Arab initiative itself.”

Abdul-Malak points out that “establishing an organization that would include the [Israeli] entity is a de facto implementation of the US project that backs Zionism in the Arab world and it is also a [sign of] absolute support for the so-called Greater Middle East project, which is meant to enforce this usurping entity’s integration in the region.” And he adds: “Despite its weakness, the Arab initiative calls on the entity to realize the need to recognize some rights for the Palestinian people, but the foreign minister is calling for gratuitous normalization, without any affirmation of any Arab and Islamic rights in Palestine.”