WASHINGTON (Jul. 14)
Jewish groups are hailing the call by the world’s major industrial powers to end the Arab boycott of Israel.
The Group of Seven, meeting in Naples last weekend, issued a communique that made two references to ending the boycott.
In one instance, the call to end the boycott came at the end of a paragraph that said “economic development is essential to underpin the peace process” and that referred to financial and Technical assistance to the nascent Palestinian Authority operating in Gaza and Jericho.
The G-7 nations also “called upon the League of Arab States to end their boycott of Israel” in a reference that also urged a “comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute and wider process of peace.”
Praising the communique, Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement: “We hail the G-7 statement for its clear and unequivocal call for an end to the boycott, marking the first time the G-7 has urged its termination without linkage to other issues.”
In the past, the G-7 statements have linked the termination of the Arab boycott of Israel with Israel’s halting of settlements in the territories, according to Stacy Burdett, assistant director of the ADL’s Washington office.
She said the Jewish community and pro-Israel groups have consistently pushed to have the boycott “delinked from the peace process” and viewed instead as an economic issue that hurts the United States and the other G-7 nations.
Martin Raffel, associate executive vice chairman of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, also called the statement “an improvement from last year.”
However, he said that given the context and brevity of the references, the G-7 call could be seen “as still linked to the peace process.”
Raffel also said the G-7 did not go far enough in denouncing the secondary and tertiary boycotts, which blacklist companies that do business with Israel.
Raffel said that the G-7 “should embrace the U.S. position and insist on a total end to the boycott” including the second and tertiary boycotts, which has “never been achieved.”
AN ‘ODIOUS FORM OF ECONOMIC TERRORISM’
According to Burdett, the termination of the boycott will be difficult to achieve if other countries do not pass and enforce strong anti-boycott legislation similar to that which exists in the United States.
U.S. Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Congressional Task Force to End the Arab Boycott, also welcomed the G-7 statement. “The G-7 statement demonstrates that the major trading nations will not tolerate this odious form of economic terrorism,” he said in a statement.
In a July 6 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor, Schumer, along with 72 members of the House of Representatives, had written that “an important way for the United States to take the lead in working to end the Arab boycott is to press for the G-7 nations to issue a stronger statement than last year calling for unequivocal opposition to the Arab boycott.”
In the letter, Schumer and his co-signers voiced their concerns about the Arab League’s lack of action to end the boycott. The letter noted that a recent Commerce. Department report showed that boycott-related activity is continuing at approximately the same rate as last year.