House Committee Adopts Stiff Provisions Against Arab Boycott

The House International Relations Committee today adopted stiff provisions against the Arab economic boycott that went beyond the measure approved by the Senate Friday. The vote was 27-1.

The House committee’s amendment to the Export Administration Act provides that no American business can comply with the Arab boycott against Israel and in addition grants an American company the private right of action in federal courts to collect trial damages from a violator of the legislation.

This measure attacks the secondary boycott of Israel practiced by Arab countries which demand from American companies that to do business with them they must not only refuse to do business with Israel but with any American company that does trade with Israel.

The Senate version forbids a company from refusing to do business with another American company that deals with Israel but does not prohibit that company from itself refusing to deal with Israel.

Rep. Paul Findley (R.III.) cast the only negative ###that the legislation would damage U.S.-Arab relations and trade. Reps. Lee Hamilton (D.Ind.) and John Buchanan (R.Ala.) both had reservations about the provision but voted for it nevertheless. Buchanan felt that some American companies would suffer business losses while Hamilton expressed concern about the cumulative affects on Saudi Arabian-American relations.

NOT DIRECTED AT ANY ONE COUNTRY

Reps. Jonathan Bingham and Benjamin Rosenthal, both New York Democrats who sponsored the amendment, said that the legislation was not directed at any one particular country. They said it could apply to any boycott of any American business from any country–Arab or other.

The House may take up the committee’s provisions next week. If adopted, a House-Senate conference committee would have to iron out the differences and return the measure to both Houses for adoption. The Administration had opposed both the Senate provision sponsored by Sens. Adlai Stevenson (D.III.) and J. Harrison Williams (D.NJ).

At the markup session in the House committee, an extraordinary development was that Arthur Day, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs, was allowed to testify against the Bingham-Rosenthal proposal. He said it would hinder American diplomatic efforts in the Mideast and be seen as a weakening of American ties to Arab lands. He indicated that Saudi Arabia would be especially bitter about it. Testimony is not usually taken at markup sessions in which a committee writes a bill, but at hearings.

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