(photo credit: AP)
Arab delegates meeting in a Syria-based office for boycotting Israel wrapped up four days of talks Thursday with demands for a tightening of the anti-Israel ban among Arab nations.
The meeting blacklisted six companies, mostly European, that do business with Israel and lifted a ban on four other companies, deemed to have abided by the boycott rules, a statement from the anti-Israeli group said.
The names of the companies involved were not disclosed.
Eight Arab countries stayed away from the meeting, including Egypt and Jordan which have signed peace treaties with Israel.
The Damascus meeting, held twice a year at the headquarters of the Central Boycott Office in the Syrian capital, drew delegates from 14 Arab states and Palestinian territories.
The meeting's agenda probed ways to abort attempts by some Israeli companies to penetrate Arab markets.
The delegates said that a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East was still "a strategic option" for the Arabs, but underscored the importance of a wide Arab and Islamic boycott of Israel as a "legitimate tool for self-defense," the statement said.
The boycott is also a "pressing tool to force Israel to bow to the resolutions of international legitimacy," it added.
Head of the Central Boycott Office, Tunisia's Mohammad al-Tayyeb Bouslaa, told reporters that Israel was trying to penetrate Arab markets under different names.
Mohammad Bousbeih, a Palestinian delegate, said boycotting Israel was "important and influential," stressing that the Arab world can "offer peace but not surrender" to Israel.
Bousbeih sought to downplay allegations the Damascus Office group was losing momentum by saying that the Arab countries which didn't attend were unable to come to the meeting for "technical reasons."
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.