Maldives to boycott Israel goods, annul agreements
Updated: 2014-07-22 15:10
COLOMBO - The Maldives government has announced the boycott of Israeli products and annulment of three bilateral agreements, in protest over the fighting in Gaza, an official said on Tuesday.
Maldives Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon told reporters the Maldives would join other Arab nations in co-sponsoring a resolution at this week's special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) calling for the protection of an independent Palestinian state and the extension of humanitarian aid.
As well as an admittedly "symbolic" boycott of Israeli products, three agreements signed in 2009 under the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed would now be annulled, explained the foreign minister.
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"President (Abdulla) Yameen and the Maldivian citizens are with the Palestinian people, " Maumoon said.
The agreements to be annulled involve cooperation in areas of health, culture and education, and tourism.
"I do not think Maldivians want any help from Israel or want to keep up relations with Israel. So from now on, the agreements have been annulled," she said.
However, she stopped short of announcing the severing of diplomatic ties.
Acknowledging the impact of the Maldives' boycott would be small, the Foreign Minister noted that other small nations had done likewise with symbolic acts that had been appreciated by the Palestinian government.
"Even though what we give is small or symbolic, the way it is received is important. The message we want to give is we are with the Palestinian people."
While the government is calling on businessmen to join the boycott, it will still be possible for some Israeli products to enter the Maldives as the country does not check for the country of origin or manufacturers of imported products.
Even so, the government will remove such products from shops in accordance with the Customs Act, local media reports indicated. The moratorium would be lifted once Israel agrees to a ceasefire.
There are few Israeli tourists arriving in the Maldives and that there were no Israeli investments in the country.
Israeli tourists -- numbering 2,569 in 2013 -- constituted 0.3 percent of total tourist arrivals. In June 2014, 254 Israeli tourists visited Maldives, a 72 percent increase from 12 months earlier, according to Tourism Ministry data.