Martin A. Weiss Specialist in International Trade and
Arab League, an umbrella organization comprising 22 Middle Eastern and African
countries and entities, has maintained an official boycott of Israeli
companies and Israeli-made goods since the founding of Israel in 1948. The
boycott is administered by the Damascus-based Central Boycott Office, a
specialized bureau of the Arab League.
The boycott has three tiers. The primary boycott prohibits citizens of an Arab
League member from buying from, selling to, or entering into a business
contract with either the Israeli government or an Israeli citizen. The
secondary boycott extends the primary boycott to any entity world-wide
that does business in Israel. A blacklist of global firms that engage in
business with Israel is maintained by the Central Boycott Office, and
disseminated to Arab League members. The tertiary boycott prohibits an
Arab League member and its nationals from doing business with a company
that deals with companies that have been blacklisted by the Arab League.
The U.S. government has often been at the forefront of international efforts to
end the boycott and its enforcement. Despite U.S. efforts, however, many
Arab League countries continue to support the boycott’s enforcement. U.S.
legislative action related to the boycott dates from 1959 and includes
multiple statutory provisions expressing U.S. opposition to the boycott,
usually in foreign assistance legislation. In 1977, Congress passed laws
making it illegal for U.S. companies to cooperate with the boycott and
authorizing the imposition of civil and criminal penalties against U.S.
violators. U.S. companies are required to report to the Department of Commerce
any requests to comply with the Arab League Boycott.
This report provides background information on the boycott and U.S. efforts to
end its enforcement. More information on Israel is contained in CRS Report
RL33476, Israel: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jim Zanotti.
Date of Report: January 17, 2013
Number of Pages: 9 Order Number: RL33961 Price: $19.95
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