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Turkish Agencies Drop Anti-israel Boycott Clause from Bid Contracts

A federal investigation, initiated by a complaint from the American Jewish Congress, has led to a change of policy by the Turkish government regarding Turkey’s cooperation in Arab boycott efforts against the State of Israel, the AJ Congress reported.

Eqrlier this year, public advertisements by Turkish state agencies requesting companies to bid on construction and equipment contracts in Turkey, financed by a Saudi Arabia investment fund, explicitly barred bidders who did not observe anti-Israel boycott requirements established by Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. Specifically, the offending clause stated that no bidders would be considered “who are not within the scope of the boycott resolutions of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the League of Arab States.” As a result of Treasury Department intervention, Turkey has now agreed to eliminate such a requirement from all future bid solicitations, according to John Chapoton, assistant secretary of the Treasury for tax policy.

The inclusion of a provision in some Turkish government agency bid solicitations limiting bidders to those acceptable to Saudi Arabia was cited in a series of letters in February and March to Secretary of the Treasury Donald Regan by Will Maslow, general counsel of the AJ Congress and editor of its publication “Boycott Report.”

In writing to Regan, Maslow noted that if such a boycott clause requirement represented Turkish government policy, U.S. law required that Turkey be added to the U.S. government’s statutory list of countries participating in the Arab boycott of Israel. Furthermore, under the law, American companies complying with boycott related requirements would be jeopardizing their tax benefits.

RESULT OF THE INQUIRY

The Treasury Department investigation, Chapaton noted in a July 14 letter to Maslow, disclosed that no evidence had been found that Turkey itself requires participation in or cooperation with the Arab boycott of Israel. The inquiry revealed that the clauses barring bidders on the Arab blacklist were inserted at the request of the Saudi Arabia Fund for Development, which financed the Turkish projects in question.

Chapoton informed AJ Congress that Turkey has advised that “the offending language will not appear in future Turkish bid invitations.” He also noted that because Turkey has normal diplomatic and commercial relations with Israel and does not maintain or participate in the anti-Israel boycott policy, it does not belong on the U.S. government’s list of boycotting countries.

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