The meeting of the Arab League on 26-27 March did not discuss the lifting of the Arab boycott of Israel, in spite of assurances given to the US in February that it would be considered. The ministers also sidestepped other issues originally on the agenda, including the way in which the league votes on inter-Arab hostilities.

The US and Germany had both asked that the league should discuss the lifting of the secondary and tertiary boycott, which affects foreign companies with investments in Israel. The Damascus-based Office of the Boycott submitted its regular report, including the requests, but ministers felt the climate was inappropriate to discuss the issue, said Nassis Hitti, a member of the secretary-general’s cabinet, on 28 March.

There would have to be further progress in the peace process before the boycott could be reviewed, including the swift implementation of the UN resolution condemning the Hebron massacre, he said.

A number of Arab states, including Lebanon and Syria, expressed their opposition to lifting any part of the boycott. Syrian Foreign Affairs Minister Farouq al-Shara said after the meeting that there was a united Arab stand not to discuss the ending of the Arab boycott because Israel still occupied Arab lands.