Asharq Al-Awsat, Riyadh- The Organization of the Islamic Conference will hold a meeting in Saudi Arabia on 13-15 March aimed at encouraging Muslim countries to participate in the group’s economic boycott of Israel. Representatives from most of the organization’s 57 members are expected to participate in the meeting.
Former Saudi Ambassador Salem al Honi whose official title is “High Commissioner of the Organization for the Islamic Conference’s (OIC) Islamic Office for the Boycott of Israel” told Asharq al Awsat that Saudi Arabia will host the meeting in Jeddah. Representatives will discuss the principles and rules governing the boycott and ways to strengthen cooperation between the Islamic boycott office and the Arab League’s office, as well as examining the list of companies that are currently boycotted in order to strike some off the list and add others.
Honi denied giving statements to Israeli National News correspondent Michael Freund, as Israeli newspapers had alleged, but indicated an individual claiming to work for a Palestinian organization had contacted him.
For his part, Abdul Raouf Rajb, head of Media relations at the General Secretariat the indicated that Saudi Arabia was hosting this scheduled meeting as the host country and not the organizer. Two Saudi representatives from the boycott office are expected to attend. The meeting will be followed by a ministerial conference in June.
Several Muslim and Arab countries continue to believe that an economic boycott of Israel is the peaceful and legal method, adopted by regional and international organizations on several occasions, to pressure certain countries and ensure that they abide by international resolutions.
Many Arab governments believe that an Arab boycott of Israel should remain in place until all occupied land is liberated and the Palestinian people obtain their legitimate rights, including the right of return and the creation of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Israeli newspapers have claimed that Saudi Arabia promised the United States it was committed to drop its economic boycott of Israel. The Kingdom strenuously denies this.
Previous annual meetings have featured talks on how to revive the boycott and increase its effectiveness, especially by examining a list of companies with economic ties to Israel that the Arab office to boycott Israel had sanctioned, as well as increasing cooperation between the two offices. The latest meeting will implement OIC recommendations that call for strengthening the boycott and for relevant authorities in member countries to apply its principles and strengthen its tools, in order to put pressure on Israel and force it to abide by international resolutions.
The OIC had called on the international community and countries that give Israel economic and financial assistance, especially the US and the EU, and the International Monetary Fund, to halt their aid as Israel is using this financial assistance to carry out its settlement activities on Palestinian land in the West Bank and in the occupied Golan Heights. It also called on them to boycott products made in illegal settlements, in accordance to international agreements.