Congress Passes Resolution Urging End to Arab Boycott

In a strong statement of opposition to the Arab economic boycott of Israel, Congress has overwhelmingly passed a resolution urging the Arab League to lift the boycott.

But soon after the weekend vote, the Arab League voted to continue the anti-Israel sanctions until Israel withdraws from all occupied Arab land and a Palestinian state is created.

The House voted 425 to 1 in favor of the resolution, and the Senate passed the measure by voice vote. Both votes occurred over the weekend, as members of Congress rushed to complete their business before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The lone member of the House to oppose the non-binding resolution was Rep. Nick Joe Rahall (D-W.Va.). Rahall has previously opposed quashing anti-Israel activities.

Concern has been mounting on Capitol Hill over continuation of the boycott, which is even older than the State of Israel and affects not only Israel but American companies doing business with the Jewish state.

With Israel now engaging in economic relationships with the Palestinians and Jordan, the boycott, which was established in 1946, is being increasingly viewed here as an anachronism and an obstacle to Middle East peace.

After Congress passed the anti-boycott resolution, an Arab League official in Cairo said the boycott would continue until Israel withdraws from all occupied Arab land and a Palestinian state comes into being.

Arab League Secretary Esmat Abdel-Meguid told reporters Monday, “We want to end the boycott, but the reasons that led to its imposition — the continuation of the occupation and the need for Palestinians to regain their rights — are still valid.”

The league voted to continue the boycott.

Here in Washington, the Congressional resolution was sponsored in the House by Rep. Peter Deutsch (D-Fla.) and in the Senate by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

In a statement issued Sunday, Deutsch said, “If the nations of the Arab League want us to believe they’re serious about peace, then it’s time that they show some real commitment and lift all forms of the boycott, including the blacklisting of hundreds of American companies.”

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