Bennett sizing up imaginary sandwich 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett took a swipe at Justice Minister
Tzipi Livni from China, saying in a Facebook post this week that she should stop
cautioning that the world will boycott Israel if it does not make progress on
the Palestinian diplomatic track.
Bennett, in China holding talks with
officials on increasing trade and economic cooperation, said the Chinese were
interested in one thing: “Feeding 1.3 billion Chinese.”
appreciate and admire the Jewish mind and Israeli entrepreneurship,” Bennett
wrote. “The Palestinians and the conflict do not interest them. They did not
raise it with me even once, in any meetings.”
He said Tuesday that an
agreement was reached with the Chinese to conduct a joint preliminary study to
examine the degree to which a free trade agreement would be beneficial to the
Bennett described this preliminary move as a
“breakthrough” and as a first step toward such an agreement.
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s trip to China in May
, Israeli officials said that
numerous countries were in line to come to free trade agreements with China, and
that process would likely take years. Besides, the officials said, because of
Israel’s small market, it was not on the top of China’s priority list for this
In his reference to Livni, the government’s chief negotiator with
the Palestinians who last week warned of a possible European boycott if Israel
did not move on the diplomatic track, Bennett said: “There are ministers who are
going around sowing panic, saying, ‘The world is boycotting us, we need to
withdraw from Judea and Samaria.’ Snap out of it. We need to deal with our
problems, but we don’t need to sow unnecessary and unsubstantiated
Three Western ambassadors have told The Jerusalem Post
same thing over the last week, all of them saying that there was no talk about a
boycott of Israel, and that the opposite was true: European businessmen and
companies were eager not only for Israeli investments and to do business in
Israel, but also to partner with Israeli firms – because of their business
culture and innovations – in joint ventures in third countries.
European ambassador said that his country was willing to cooperate with Israel
in every possible field.
Even if US Secretary of State John Kerry’s
efforts to restart negotiations fail, the ambassador said, his country was “more
than willing to cooperate with Israel in all possible areas.”
instance, is a country which in the past has been highly critical of Israel’s
policies and whose public opinion is considered pro-Palestinian. Yet Spain is
vying with China to win the not-yet-released tender to build a high-speed train
from Eilat to Beersheba.
Not only is a European boycott of Israel
completely unlikely, say Western diplomats, but even the move to label
settlement goods should not be seen as a boycott, and is explained to Israelis
as an effort at ensuring full disclosure to consumers regarding where their
products are coming from.
Israel, as Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin
made clear in a meeting earlier this week to German Development Minister Dirk
Niebel, is concerned that labeling the products could lead to their boycott,
something that would adversely affect the Palestinian economy – since some
22,500 Palestinians work in plants and firms in the settlements. If these
companies move within the Green Line, he said, these jobs would be
Elkin presented Niebel with a paper saying that “employment in
Jewish settlements constitutes a significant part of the total employment of
young Palestinians” aged 18-29.
“The potential annual income of
Palestinians working in Jewish settlements totals NIS 1 billion (over $277
million),” the document read. “This income is a crucial source of capital for
Palestinian residents of the West Bank and for the Palestinian Authority’s
economy. It is the equivalent of nearly 9 percent of the total annual budget of
the Palestinian Authority in 2012, which amounted to $3.1b.”