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Dutch Government Adopts Measures Aimed Against the Arab Boycott

Responding to pressure from Parliament and public opinion, The Netherlands government has adopted six measures aimed against the Arab boycott which must be implemented within one year. The Parliament ended its debate on the boycott and its impact on the Dutch economy Tuesday.

The first three measures require an alteration of present law. They are: prohibition of any form of discrimination against Jewish-owned businesses in transactions with Arab states. Companies and other institutions also may not issue statements about the religion of their employes; mandatory disclosure of all boycott requests received by companies.

Companies complying with such requests will be named publicly and Parliament will be advised once a year which companies have been named; second and third degree boycotts are prohibited. A concessionaire, for example, may not discriminate against other Dutch companies on the Arab blacklist.

Also prohibited is the legalization of signatures on boycott documents by chambers of commerce or the Foreign Ministry. In addition, a special body will be created to receive complaints about Arab boycott requests and to dispense advice. Finally, Parliament has determined that negative certificates of origin are contrary to normal business practice. The government is expected shortly to institute measures to prevent the issuance of such certificates although there will not be an immediate legal prohibition.

BACKGROUND OF THE ACTION

The matter of the Arab boycott and its effects in Holland was raised last year by Dr. Ronny Naftaniel of the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) in his book titled “The Arab Boycott in The Netherlands,” published in February, 1978. The book aroused public indignation.

Because the government did not want to in-vestigate the matter; Parliament instituted its own investigation which ended in February, 1979. It concluded that many companies frequently complied with Arab boycott requests. However, it wasn’t until last August that the government proposed a policy for dealing with the boycott. The government’s proposals were widely criticized in Parliament, by CIDI and by the Anti-Boycott Committee which includes several distinguished citizens.

Last August, the Dutch representative at the United Nations brought the Arab boycott requests and the non-Jewish certification requirements before the Commission for Supervision of the treaty to Banish Racial Discrimination. The Commission condemned these practices in general.

Meanwhile, the government has promised to strike out a clause in the insurance conditions of The Nederlandse Crediet Verzekering Moat schappij asking companies to adhere to Arab boycott requests. But the alteration is not expected to have much effect.

During the Parliamentary debates on Oct. 23, 24 and 30, Socialist and Democratic MPs pressed the government to take further measures. The result was the six anti-boycott measures. The first reaction of CIDI and the Anti-Boycott Committee was positive. But employer organizations expressed disappointment. The largest of these, the Society of Dutch Employers (VNO) claimed that the measure will have harmful effects on Dutch-Arab business relations.

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