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'Blood on hands' protest

MPs demanded an apology yesterday after Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa accused them of having Palestinian blood on their hands.

An MP, who urged the minister to wash his hands after meeting Israel Foreign Minister Tzipora "Tzipi" Livni, later backtracked saying he was only suggesting that Ms Livni was "dirty".

"I meant Tzipi is dirty and Shaikh Khalid, who is clean, should purify his hands," said MP Nasser Al Fadhala in a statement.

"What he threw at us in his anger, us cleaning our hands of the Palestinian blood, shocked us because our hands are not like the hands of those he has shaken."

During yesterday's parliamentary session MPs reiterated their demands that there should be no ties between Bahrain and Israel.

They were angered by an unofficial meeting between Shaikh Khalid and his Israeli counterpart on the sidelines of a UN summit, in New York, last month.

However, Shaikh Khalid told MPs that the meeting took place as part of efforts to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"The meeting was a part of the Arab Peace Initiave Committee, which I am a member of," he said.

"We didn't visit Israel - Egypt and Jordan are the only countries allowed direct meeting with the Zionists.

"Bahrain didn't normalise relations with Israel, which is still our enemy.

"We will always be against them until they make peace their priority."

He added that Bahrain should not sit back while Palestinians are suffering.

"We have to take action," he said. "Do you want us to stand powerless doing nothing?

"There are others who meet with the Israelis in secrecy. Do you want us to be like them?"

He also defended the closing of the Israeli Products Boycott Office as part of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US, which he said had brought $1 billion (BD378m) in revenue to Bahrain.

"People are still boycotting (Israel) with or without the office," he added.

MPs had criticised the arrests of Palestinian MPs by Israel, which they said was trying to "kill our Arab and Islamic conscience" and "force us to approve their presence between us".

"They want to say Arabs are willing to sit with them, so open your minds Arabs, we are coming anyway - whether you like it or not," said MP Dr Ali Ahmed.

Another MP, Jalal Fairooz, said parliament was calling for the activation of a 1955 decree that bans any government official from meeting with Israeli officials.

"This is the only way to stop this nuisance of government officials thinking that they can now meet with the Israelis without anyone questioning them," he said.

alaali@gdn.com.bh



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