Palestinian Authority steps up boycott of goods made in Israeli settlements in West Bank
The Palestinian Authority is intensifying its bid to boycott goods made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, even as the EU Thursday said such products could not qualify as duty free imports. The effort takes a different approach to the struggle against Israeli occupation.
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A campaign with teeth?
Not stopping at simply raising public awareness, the PA is also giving the campaign teeth. Toame's office has drafted a law, signed by Mr. Fayyad and awaiting the signature of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, that would make it illegal for Palestinians to sell settlement products, on pain of heavy fines and jail time.Skip to next paragraph
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The idea, Toame says, is to go after big distributors, and not consumers. But many small businesses say that is easier said than done. Not all products are easily replaceable in terms of quality; for others, there isn't enough Palestinian production to meet demand.
"I just found out that the dates I have been selling come from the Jordan valley settlements," says Said Mohammad, who runs an open-air vegetable market in the old city area of Ramallah. "I will not buy them again, even though they are in great demand – and they are delicious. But the settlers stole our land, and this economic boycott is an extremely important route to fighting back."
Mohammad Shini, the manager of a supermarket in Al-Bireh, near Ramallah, says that many Palestinians were not aware of what they were buying.
"Many supermarkets were buying goods without realizing that the merchandise came from the settlements," he says. "Now that we're aware of it, we're doing our best to stay away from settler produce."
PA must help develop industries
But Omar Deek, who owns the busy Zain Mini-Market, said that for the boycott to be effective, the PA must help the development of industries offering equally high-quality products.
"We have stopped buying diapers that come from the settlements, even though it's the best quality and no Palestinian manufacturer has an equally good product," Deek says as he rings up a customer. "The PA should encourage industry growth in order to fight both Israel's and the settlements' merchandise coming into our market. And, we need to activate the quality-assurance departments in the government in order to urge Palestinians to adhere to high-quality standards. Palestinian industry suffers from lack of monitoring on its merchandise, which brings down the level of the goods produced in the PA areas."
Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said Israel sees the PA campaign – particularly the burning of Israeli goods – as counterproductive.
"The Palestinians would be much better off if they dedicated their efforts to the development and prosperity of their own economy, rather than boycotting and destroying the products of the other sides' economy," he said.