Kuwaiti candidate urges ties with Israel

Kuwaiti journalist running for parliament says ties with Israel will improve emirate's standing in West.

Kuwait city 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Kuwait city 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A Kuwaiti journalist who will be running for parliament in next month's general election called on Tuesday on the Gulf state to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel. "Israel is a reality and has international influence... Kuwait would benefit from Israel's influence if we establish relations with them," said Saleh Bahman, who is running as an independent. He also said relations between Kuwait and Israel would improve the oil-rich emirate's standing in the West. In an interview published on the Web site of Al Arabiya TV network, Bahman said he was not afraid for his life after calling for normalization with Israel. "The residents of Kuwait live in security and there is no threat on my life. What I said comes from deep conviction and I have complete freedom to express my views," he said. Bahman said many important persons in Gulf states have met with Israeli counterparts and normalization is a possibility. He also said his proposal is positively viewed by intellectuals and academics in Kuwait, and expressed hope that Kuwait take "swift" steps to establish relations with Israel, including the two countries bilaterally opening embassies. Kuwait, a staunch US ally, has so far resisted pressure to end its boycott of Israel and has repeatedly said it would be the last Arab state to establish ties with the Jewish state after any peace deal with the Palestinians. Earlier this year, a number of Kuwaiti lawmakers submitted a bill calling for a total ban on dealing with Israel and proposing hefty penalties for violators. The bill has not been yet been debated. Kuwait's parliamentary election is scheduled for May 16.