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Congress & the Middle East: House Resolution Condemning Saudi Boycott of Israel

(April 6, 2006)

In April 2006, yhe U.S. House of Representatives unamiously passed a resolution urging the Bush administration to pressure Saudi Arabia into lifting its boycott of Israel and complying with its World Trade Organization commitments. WTO members are not permitted to boycott another member nation, and Saudi Arabia had repeatedly promised the U.S. that it would comply. However, it hosted the Organization of the Islamic Conference's annual meeting for officers responsible for enforcing the boycott of Israel, thereby violating the WTO rules.

Whereas the United States supported the accession of Saudi Arabia to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2005; (Engrossed as Agreed to or Passed by House)


2d Session

H. CON. RES. 370

Whereas the United States supported the accession of Saudi Arabia to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2005;

Whereas, as part of the working party report for the accession of Saudia Arabia to the WTO, Saudi Arabia reiterated its commitment to terminate the secondary and tertiary boycotts on Israel;

Whereas Saudi Arabia also committed not to discriminate against any WTO members and specifically did not invoke the non-application provisions of the WTO Agreement, and thus has rights and obligations to all WTO members, including Israel;

Whereas, in spite of these commitments to WTO members and United States officials, press reports indicate that an official of the Government of Saudi Arabia has stated that Saudi Arabia has not committed to ending the primary boycott on Israel, which would violate Saudi Arabia's WTO obligations toward Israel;

Whereas United States Trade Representative Portman has testified to the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives that Saudi Arabia's application of the boycott is a `big concern' of the United States; that Saudi Arabia did not invoke non-application of WTO commitments to Israel, so that Saudi Arabia is required to provide nondiscriminatory treatment to Israel; and that the United States Trade Representative has received assurances from Saudi Arabia that it will abide by its WTO commitments; and

Whereas the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) scheduled its `Ninth Meeting of the Liaison Officers of Islamic Regional Officers for the Boycott of Israel' for the week of March 13, 2006, at the OIC's headquarters in Saudi Arabia: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of the Congress that--

(1) Saudi Arabia should maintain and fully live up to its commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and end all aspects of any boycott on Israel; and

(2) the President, the United States Trade Representative, and the Secretary of State--

(A) should continue their active involvement on this issue by strongly urging the Government of Saudi Arabia to comply with its WTO obligations; and

(B) should urge Saudi Arabia to end any boycott on Israel.

Passed the House of Representatives April 5, 2006.

Sources: Thomas; JTA