JERUSALEM (Jul. 31)
The Israel Government is studying the possibility of raising the question of the Arab boycott in the United Nations in the not too distant future, it was learned here today. A final decision, however, must await the arrival here for consultations of Ambassadors Abba Eban from Washington and Eliahu Elath from London next month.
These deliberations will be given new urgency by the decision of Shell Oil Company to abandon its oil operations in this country. Meanwhile. Israel is collecting material on the legal and economic aspects of boycott — regarding both Arab activities in the past and possible Israeli counteractions in the future.
Three main types of Arab boycott affect Israel the stoppage of oil supplies from the nearby Arab oil fields from which there are pipelines directly to the Haifa refineries; the Suez blockade and, until last November, the Akaba blockade; and the pressure on foreign companies not to trade with Israel.
Economic damage resulting from the boycott is of two kinds: actual losses occasioned by having to bring oil over great distances rather than from nearby fields or through the Suez Canal, and a loss in trade from Arab pressure. While the loss of trade cannot be fixed in exact amounts, it is estimated that it has cost Israel already between $200, 000, 000 and $300, 000, 000 to make up for the closing down of nearly oil sources and the Egyptian refusal to permit Israeli shipping through the Suez Canal.
Israel action against the boycott, which has been contemplated in the past but never got under way, could include the following: action in the UN; action to hurt Arab foreign trade, and punitive action against foreign firms which knuckle under to the boycott. Since the extent of the Arab states’ foreign trade is extremely limited, this form of reprisal in unlikely to have much meaning, but effective steps could be taken on the international political level or against companies which boycott Israel at Arab behest.