Bahrain's parliament is pressing the Gulf Arab emirate's government to reopen the country's Israel Boycott Office, which was closed two years ago under pressure from Washington.
Prior to its closure, the boycott office had overseen government efforts to bar entry to Israeli-made goods in accordance with the Arab League's economic and trade embargo against the Jewish state.
At a meeting held late last week, the legislature's committee on foreign affairs, defense and national security also called for an end to all formal contacts with the Jewish state.
"Now that the committee has agreed on reopening the office, we request the Foreign Ministry to support the decisions by the representatives of the people and to put an end to all forms of contact between Bahrain and the Zionist entity," committee chairman Adel al-Mouawda said, according to Gulf News.
"The authorities should also allow the re-opening of the Israel boycott office and ban any form of communication with the Zionist entity," he added, following a meeting with Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmad al-Khalifa.
The US and Bahrain signed a free trade agreement in September 2004. It was ratified by Congress in December 2005 and went into effect the following year once the Bahraini government finalized various changes to its trade legislation.
The US conditioned the deal on Bahrain's removal of restrictions on trade with the Jewish state, and Bahraini officials assured Washington that they would cancel the anti-Israel embargo and close down the Israel Boycott Office.
But the move sparked opposition among Bahraini legislators, particularly among the sizable Islamist bloc in parliament, which has been outspoken in its criticism of any moves to normalize relations with Israel.
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post by phone from Manama, Bahraini MP Muhammad Yousef Yacoub al-Moz'il expressed support for the committee's efforts to clamp down on ties with the Jewish state.
"The committee's decision is very welcome by us. The Zionist state should not have any access whatsoever to the world of the Arabs and Muslims, because any ties with them are helping them to kill the Palestinians," he said.
"The people of Bahrain do not welcome any ties with the Zionists," Moz'il added, before suddenly growing angry that he was speaking to an Israeli journalist. His voice rising perceptibly, Moz'il said, "I don't want to give any statement to any Israeli newspaper, because if you are from an Israeli newspaper then you share the responsibility for spilling the blood of Palestinians," he said before hanging up.
Despite Bahrain's pledge to stop applying the boycott, there are indications that Manama continues to enforce it.
According to a recent report issued by the US Congressional Research Service, US companies received 24 boycott-related requests from Bahrain in fiscal year 2007.