Kuwait politician who called for Israel ties quits parliament race
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Last update - 18:59 22/04/2009
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent
Salah Bahman, an independent candidate for the Kuwaiti parliament, has dropped out of the race a day after he called for full normalization of relations between Israel and Kuwait, igniting a storm of controversy in the Persian gulf state.
In a radio interview Wednesday, Bahman backtracked on his previous statement before announcing his withdrawal from the race.
During an interview Tuesday with the news Website "Al-Arabiya", Bahman said Kuwait needed to normalize relations with Israel immediately after their liberation from Iraqi occupation.
Bahman stated that Kuwait plays an important role in international relations and normalization of ties with Israel would have a "positive influence" on Kuwait's role in diplomatic affairs.
Bahman added that if positive relations between the two countries were formed, it would help Kuwait and the remainder of the Arab world.
Bahman said he doesn't fear for his life after his statements were aired, saying he believes in what he said and he has faith in the freedom of speech in Kuwait.
Kuwaiti law bans ties with Israel and has policies against calling for ties with Israel, which it refers to as "the Zionist entity."