LONDON (Jul. 13)
Two Israeli officials disclosed at a press conference here that measures to block Arab boycott action were included in the discussions leading up to the recently signed pact between Israel and the European Common Market countries and are also part of the ongoing negotiations for an Israeli-Egyptian interim agreement in Sinai.
Avraham Agmon, the recently appointed advisor to the Israeli government on counter boycott measures, and Dan Halperin, an advisor to the Finance Minister specializing in that area, visited here in connection with the Anglo-Israeli Chamber of Commerce anti-boycott drive.
Agmon said that before it signed its agreement with the European Economic Community (EEC) calling for a mutual reduction of tariffs, Israel asked for measures to prevent Arab discriminatory practices. He said Israel believed such measures were in the interests of the EEC in its efforts to develop a Mediterranean free trade area. He explained that Israel’s main trading partners were the Common Market, the United States and Canada which, together, accounted for 80 percent of Israel’s foreign trade. Western firms, therefore, have good reason why they should not submit to Arab blackmail, Agmon said.
MAIN PROBLEM IN BRITAIN
Halperin confirmed that in the talks on an interim agreement being conducted through the good offices of the U.S., Israel made it clear that Egypt would have to modify its economic warfare against Israel as part of the efforts to reduce tension. He said the main problem in Britain was that a number of British firms deliberately avoided doing business with Israel for fear of Arab boycott action without actually having been threatened by the Arabs. He added that when a firm stands up to boycott threats, the Arabs become more flexible and back down.
Halperin said this was the case in the banking world where most banks, with the exception of Kleinwort-Benson of London. the banks refused to bow to boycott pressures. In France, he said, a leading France-Arab bank is working with Jewish firms and the Arab boycott office has found a way to explain this. He said the Anglo-Israel Chamber of Commerce was seeking tougher counter-measures in this country comparable to the legislation in the United States that outlaws discriminatory practices.
Britain’s long standing official position on the Arab boycott is to ignore its existence. Department of Trade officials, when consulted by British firms, say there is no reason why an firm cannot deal with both Israel and the Arabs. But they leave it up to the individual firm to decide what to do.
CALL FOR BOYCOTT INTENSIFIED
The Arab League information office here put out a statement Friday justifying the anti-Israel boycott on grounds that the Allies boycotted neutral countries that did business with Nazi Germany during World War II. They also claimed that the boycott weapon was first used by Zionist settlers in Palestine early in this century when they banned the use of Palestinian labor in Jewish settlements.
Meanwhile, King Khalid of Saudi Arabia opened the sixth Islamic foreign ministers conference yesterday in Jidda with a plea for Moslem solidarity and a denunciation of Israel. According to reports today from Jidda, Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel-Halim Khaddam said he was optimistic that the 40-nation conference would approve his call for Israel to be excluded from the United Nations. A Syrian resolution to the conference also calls for Israel to keep out of all international conferences under UN auspices and urged Moslem nations to join the Arab boycott against Israel.)