MPs approve jail terms of up to seven years, fines of 10,000 for any contact or relations with Israel.
MANAMA – Parliament in Bahrain, ignoring government objections, passed a bill on Tuesday to outlaw any contact with Israel and introduce prison sentences for anyone breaking the law.
MPs approved jail terms of three to seven years and fines of 10,000 Bahraini dinars (27,000 dollars) for offenders.
The draft law bans “any contact or relations with Israel” and forbids “the establishment of diplomatic or consular representation” between the two countries.
The plan aims to prevent any renewal of the contacts that have taken place between Bahraini and Israeli leaders, despite the two countries not having diplomatic relations.
The Bahraini government said the contacts were for the benefit of Palestinians.
The bill still needs clearance by the consultative council, a 40-member body appointed by the king, and its approval is not certain.
If the law comes into force it threatens to hamper diplomatic activity by the kingdom, which is a close ally of the United States and has been encouraging other Arab countries to have contacts with Israel.
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.”
Hamad al-Amer, deputy foreign secretary, said there is no need for the law as “Bahrain opposes any normalisation with Israel before Palestinians regain their rights.”
The legal affairs director at the foreign ministry, Yussef Abdel Karim, said parliament’s only role in foreign relations is to “ratify or not international treaties.”