United Arab Emirates: New Decree-Law Abolishes Law on Boycott of Israel

(Sept. 9, 2020) On August 29, 2020, the president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, issued Federal Decree-Law No. 4 of 2020, abolishing Federal Law No. 15 of 1972 on the Boycott of the State of Israel. The abolishment of Law No. 15 of 1972 comes after the UAE and Israel announced an agreement on August 13, 2020, to establish full diplomatic ties. The UAE is the first Gulf state and the third Arab country to establish full diplomatic ties with the State of Israel.

The purpose of Federal Decree-Law No. 4 of 2020 is to expand diplomatic and commercial cooperation between the two countries. Moreover, by abolishing Law No. 15 of 1972, Emirati citizens and corporations may enter into commercial, financial, and trade agreements with Israeli corporations. The new decree-law allows Emirati and Israeli citizens to visit each other’s countries and abolishes penalties imposed by Law No. 15 of 1972 on individuals visiting Israel and on corporations trading with Israel.

Abolished Law No. 15 of 1972

The abolished Law No. 15 of 1972 on the Boycott of the State of Israel, which consisted of 14 articles, prohibited Emirati corporations from having branches in the State of Israel or simultaneously conducting operations in Israel and the UAE. It also banned Emirati companies from concluding business deals with Israeli companies. (Law No. 15 of 1972, art. 1.)

Law No. 15 of 1972 also forbade Emirati corporations from importing goods and products from Israel or exporting them to Israel. It prevented Emirati corporations from importing any products that had a component manufactured in Israel (art. 2) and required that Emirati manufacturing companies label products with a statement that the product had not been manufactured in Israel (art. 3). Emirati export-import companies were also prohibited from transporting goods and products through UAE territory to Israel. (Art. 5.)

Finally, Law No. 15 of 1972 imposed a penalty of three to ten years’ imprisonment for violating its provisions (art. 6) and mandated that an announcement in large, bold letters be posted at the entrance of an offending company or store stating that the company or store had had business dealings with the State of Israel and violated the Israel boycott law (art. 8).

Official Reactions to Federal Decree-Law No. 4 of 2020

According to news reports, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Dr. Anwar Gargash, has stated that Decree-Law No. 4 of 2020 will help to enhance technological cooperation and trade agreements with Israel. Moreover, Ali Al Naimy, the chairperson of the Defense Committee at the National Council (parliament) of the UAE has endorsed the same measure, calling it a step in the right direction toward establish a new era in the Arab-Israeli relationship.

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