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Abdulaziz. 'Lifting embargo not a sign for anything'
Photo: Reuters
Saudi Arabia annuls embargo on Israel
Arab state to lift its economic embargo on Israel, as precondition to become member of World Trade Organization. Move is important milestone, may foretell relations with Arab countries in future, Israeli official says
Saudi Arabia has agreed to annul its economic embargo on Israel, thus paving its way to become a member of the World Trade Organization, Israeli and American sources reported Tuesday.

 

The country is expected to officially join the international organization on December 11th, two days prior to the opening of the WTO's convention in Hong Kong.

 

All states that are members of the organization are obligated to adhere to the WTO's legislation, which include demands for the liberalization of various economic sectors, as well as a commitment to open the country's markets to trade with other member states.

 

The process to approve Saudi Arabia's appeal to register with the WTO has persisted for 12 years, in part due to the Arab embargo on Israel, which goes against the organizations' regulations.

 

A promise for the future?

 

Israel's ambassador to the trade organization, Yitzhak Levanon, said that Saudi Arabia has presented sufficient warranties to attest for its willingness to abide by the WTO's rules once it becomes a member, including the rule that pertains to the ban on embargos against other member states.

 

Levanon said he was pleased with Saudi Arabia's decision to bear with the rules, and added that he hopes this move will open the door for a better future in the region.

 

"Such embargos within the WTO are totally unacceptable. Once Saudi Arabia has accepted these rules, the door for future relations, when the time comes, has opened," he added.

 

Saudi Arabia's Assistant Minister of Petroleum Affairs Prince Abdulaziz, was more vague in his comment on the issue, and said that "they
(Israel) are there as members of the organization, and so are we, there is nothing more to it."

 

According to Yair Shiran, deputy director-general for foreign trade in the Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry, the Saudi obligation to remove the embargo represents an important milestone, in light of the fact that there are currently several other Arab states that are in stages of accession to the WTO.

 

These countries will also have to lift the embargo, if they wish to become members of the organization, he explained.

 

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