WASHINGTON – Congressman Benjamin L. Cardin, Ranking Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, hailed the approval today of a resolution which urges the Mediterranean Partners to work with the Arab League to rescind the trade boycott of the State of Israel. Cardin successfully offered the amendment in committee.
“The termination of the Arab League boycott against Israel is long overdue,” said Cardin, who served as the Chairman of the OSCE PA’s Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment (Second Committee). “The boycott has been in existence for nearly 50 years, and has served only to exacerbate tensions between the United States, Israel, and our partners in the Middle East.”
Several Mediterranean Partners, including Egypt and Jordan, have shown leadership on this issue and signed agreements with Israel terminating their participation in the boycott.
“The continued enforcement of any level of the boycott against Israel is unacceptable. Trade is one of the greatest tools for promoting peace and integration,” added Rep. Cardin. “Continuing the boycott against Israel only furthers isolation and misunderstanding among countries in the Middle East. Arab League countries must also end their boycott of Israel in order to accede to the World Trade Organization.”
“The passage of this resolution is really heartening. The first step toward better relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors is to create an environment where trade, tourism and commerce can flourish. This just shows that there is a real desire to foster those conditions, and to finally bring peace to the Middle East,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.
Cardin, who was unanimously reelected as Chairman of the Second Committee, also participated in a side panel discussion with Moroccan Ambassador to the United States Aziz Mekouar. Cardin praised the free trade agreements between the United States and Israel, Jordan, and Morocco, and expressed support for the Administration’s long-term goal of establishing a Middle East Free Trade Agreement.
The OSCE PA also approved an amendment by Cardin which welcomes the creation of qualifying industrial zones (QIZ) between Israel, Jordan, and Egypt as a model for promoting peace and development in the greater Middle East.