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Bahrain announced to the United States recently that it will rescind its economic boycott of Israel. A message sent by Bahrain's treasurer, Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, to the U.S. commercial delegation in the kingdom, said that "Bahrain recognizes the need to withdraw the primary boycott against Israel and is developing the means to achieve this."

The Arabs' blacklisting of Israel dates back to the 1960s when the Arab League declared a boycott against: all Israeli companies (primary boycott); all individuals, states and companies that trade with Israel (secondary boycott); and all firms that do business with companies operating in Israel (tertiary boycott). It is the primary boycott - against Israeli companies - that Bahrain now intends to repeal. The two less direct boycotts were revoked in the wake of the Oslo Accords.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom has been making significant efforts - and headway - in expanding the list of Arab countries that have links with Israel. Reports have emerged recently of unofficial Israeli trade representatives in Dubai, and Shalom met earlier this month with his counterparts from Pakistan and Indonesia.

Jordan's Al-Dustour newspaper published an op-ed yesterday by Kamal Rashid, entitled "The foreign minister of Israel," in which the usually anti-normalization columnist praised Shalom's activities.

"He succeeded in breaking the iron curtain, or what we thought was an iron curtain, with the Arab and Muslim countries," Rashid wrote. "During his term, the Arab countries ended their silence and declared what had been hidden until now."