Operation Cast Lead Taking Toll on Israeli Businesses Overseas

Union of Turkish cooperatives announces plan to place embargo on financing purchases from Israel.

Although there have been no reported cancellations of existing deals, the union of Turkish cooperatives, affiliated with the Turkish Agriculture Ministry, announced on its Web site Wednesday it would place an embargo on financing purchases from Israel.

The organization offers subsidies to farmers in place of the state agricultural bank. With such an embargo, Turkish farmers will prefer to buy their agricultural supplies from other sources.

Israel's commercial attache in Turkey, Doron Abrahami, said that although it is very difficult to develop new business in Turkey, no cancellations of existing contracts had been reported.

The Turkish government had also rejected pressure from MPs to cancel security-related contracts with Israel. Nevertheless, the Manufacturers' Association here recently reported that a delegation of 30 industrialists in the furniture sector that had planned to travel to Istanbul had canceled the trip in view of anti-Israel hostility and concerns for the delegation's safety.

Britain has seen isolated instances of company's refusing to negotiate with Israeli companies over the fighting in the south. "There have been two or three small information technology companies who refused proposals by Israeli companies to do business," reports Israel's commercial attache in Britain, Gil Erez.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has taken an unequivocal stance in favor of Israel and against Hamas, which appears to have contributed to the mood of doing business with Israel, says Israel's commercial attache. Nevertheless, there have been some cancellations of planned tourist visits to Israel from January through May, due to the security situation.

In Paris and New York, there were similar reports. While there have been no major shifts in commercial activity between Israel and local businesses so far, the shadow from the war in the south could grow longer.