Arab states meet to reinvigorate Israel boycott

Arab states meet to rein

Representatives of 16 Arab states convened in Damascus last week for a conference aimed at strengthening the decades-old Arab economic and trade boycott of Israel. The annual event brought together regional Arab League boycott liaison officers from participating Arab countries, as well as representatives of the Palestinians and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Although the Arab League has its headquarters in Cairo, the organization's Office for the Boycott of Israel has been based in the Syrian capital since its establishment in 1951. Speakers at the conference stressed the importance of enforcing the embargo on Israel as a means of applying pressure to the Jewish state. Arab League Assistant Secretary General for Palestine Affairs Mohammed Subaih said the boycott is necessary "to confront Israel's aggression and crimes" and he thanked the conference's Syrian hosts for their support. Muhammad al- Tayyeb Busala'a, who serves as commissioner general of the Arab League's Central Bureau for the Boycott of Israel, denounced what he termed "the persistent Zionist aggression" and said that the Jewish state should be held accountable for its "war crimes". In recent years, enforcement of the boycott has waned. Some Arab League members, such as Egypt and Jordan, ceased applying it after signing peace treaties with Israel, while others, such as Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, do not enforce it. Other Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, continue to bar entry to goods made in Israel or those containing Israeli-made components.