The former Bahraini official received an outpour of support for what many described as a “brave stance”.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has lauded the stance of former Bahraini official Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa against normalisation with the Israeli regime.
“The Palestinian national boycott movement salutes President of the Bahrain Culture and Antiquities Authority Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa for her honourable stance in rejecting normalisation with the Israeli enemy and its representatives,” BDS tweeted on Monday.
The statement went on to say that Sheikha Mai’s stance is “consistent with the position of the overwhelming majority of the brotherly Bahraini people and the peoples of the Arab region.”
The former Bahraini official made headlines over the weekend after being dismissed from her post for refusing to shake hands with a Zionist official at the home of the US envoy to Bahrain, Stephen Bundy.
Reports said the incident took place when the Israeli ambassador and Sheikha Mai were being introduced to one another at a funeral reception hosted by Bundy to mark his father’s death.
She then left the house of the American ambassador and requested the embassy to refrain from publishing any photos of her at the funeral.
King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa issued a decree on 21 July appointing Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa as the new head of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities.
“We appreciate this brave stance and call on the brotherly Arab populations to increase pressure at the official level in order to stop the treacherous normalisation relations established by Arab authoritarian regimes with the Israeli colonial and apartheid regime,” added BDS.
The boycott movement also described Israel as “the main enemy that threatens all the peoples of the Arab region.”
Meanwhile, Kuwaiti economist and writer Dr. Suad Al Sabah joined in global support for Sheikha Mai.
On Sunday, Al Sabah told Sheikha Mai that “there are situations that do not accept the colour grey, those that we pay for with unparalleled happiness.”
“And the hand that does not shake hands in situations that require abstinence is the one we have to accept, it is the cry of ‘no peace’ that we have carried as a slogan since the beginning of awareness,” added the Kuwaiti writer.
Dr. Al Sabah added,”A kiss to your hands that insists on cleanliness, and a kiss to the heart that does not accept compromise…I am so proud of you.”
Sheikha Mai has long been known for her anti-Israel position.
The Sheikh Ibrahim Centre, run by the former Bahraini minister, hosted the Jewish historian and thinker Ilan Pappe on 30 November 30 last year, who believes that the desired future solution in Palestine is the abolition of the “racist” Zionist settlement colonisation of Palestine.
The symposium was considered “a blow” to the efforts of normalisation with the occupying regime.
Normalisation with Israel
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates normalised ties with the Israeli regime in 2020 by signing the Abraham Accord, a controversial agreement brokered by the former US Donald Trump administration.
The signing was described by Arabs worldwide as a betrayal to the Palestinian cause, which has been at the centre of the region for decades. Sudan and Morocco later followed suit in normalising ties with the occupying state.
As it stands, the only countries in the region that normalised with the Zionist state are Jordan, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have long expressed their commitment to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. Adopted by the GCC, the initiative stipulates that member states shall refrain from normalising with Israel until it fully withdraws from lands occupied in 1967.
The US Joe Biden administration has also expressed its willingness in bringing together Israel and countries of the Middle East.
In early July, Saudi Civil Aviation Authority announced in a statement “the decision to open the kingdom’s airspace for all air carriers that meet the requirements of the authority for overflying.” This came during Biden’s regional visit, which analysts believed was as part of his efforts in expanding the Abraham Accords.
During his speech at the Jeddah summit, attended by Biden on 16 July, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani slammed Israel’s “politics of force” under which the Zionist state rejects concessions put forward by the Arab world.
“It is inappropriate for the Arabs to propose settlements, while Israel’s role is confined to rejecting them and increasing its intransigence whenever the Arabs make concessions. Just as Israel has a public opinion, we also have a public opinion in the Arab world,” said Sheikh Tamim.