(photo credit: AP)
Delegates to a Syrian-based anti-Israel office began talks in Damascus Monday on ways to revive momentum for the Arabs' boycott of the Jewish state.
Eight Arab countries stayed away from the four-day meeting, including Egypt and Jordan which have signed peace treaties with Israel.
Those attending the gathering, held twice a year at the headquarters of the Central Boycott Office in Damascus, included delegates from 14 Arab states and Palestinian territories.
Topping the agenda was the boycott of companies that do business with Israel and ways to abort attempts by some Israeli companies to penetrate Arab markets.
The commissioner general of the organization, Tunisia's Mohammad al-Tayyeb Bouslaa, stressed that the boycott was needed because of the "flagrant Israeli aggression" on the Palestinians and the continued Israel occupation of Arab lands.
"Boycott is legitimate and we cling fast to it so long as it is considered a tool of pressure on Israel to force it to bow to give back the usurped Arab lands and rights," Bouslaa told the meeting's opening session.
Mohammad Ajami, head of the Syrian office for the boycott of Israel, told reporters the boycott still remained "influential and a popular Arab demand."
"Some Arab countries are committed to the meeting after they have discovered that peace with Israel is a mirage and a lie," Ajami said.
The once-influential Damascus office was set up in 1951 and was funded by the Arab League to track down foreign companies that do business with or support Israel and then ban them from operating in the Arab world.