Friday, December 23, 2005

Saudi-Israeli détente? Creeping progress

John Burgess at Crossroads Arabia points to a bit of progress in Saudi Arabia's view of Israel. Movement in the right direction in the Middle East is so slow it is like watching a tree grow.

This Arab News item, clearly from a governmental press release, clarifies the situation of Saudi Arabia in terms of trade with Israel.

The Saudis will continue to prohibit imports of Israeli goods, or dealing directly with an Israeli company. (First degree boycott)

They will no longer prohibit business that deals with Israel through an intermediary.(Second degree)

They will also no longer prohibit business that do business in Israel from doing business in Saudi Arabia. (Third degree), though this has already been the case, generally, since 1991 and the Gulf War.

Apparently, the Saudis are exercising their sovreign right to choose with whom they will do business. Under WTO, this is permitted. Extended boycotts are prohibited, however, so they will drop those.

I suspect that it will take diplomatic relations with Israel, under the terms outlined by Abdullah in 2003 and accepted by the Arab League, before the First Degree boycott goes away.

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