Palestinians in Ramallah expressed outrage on Monday at the news that the
Israel-based Fox clothing chain is planning to open a branch in their
Fox confirmed on Monday that it will be opening its first Ramallah
branch within several months, and that it would be operated as a locally owned
Large signs in the city announcing the opening of the Fox
store enraged Palestinian activists involved in various campaigns to promote
boycotts against Israel. The activists accused the Palestinian Authority of
issuing permission to an Israeli company to operate in Ramallah in violation of
Palestinian law, and said they would wage a series of protests against the plans
to open the Fox store. They also threatened to bring the issue to Palestinian
Activist Zeid al-Shuaibi said that opening a Fox branch in
Ramallah was in violation of PA laws banning normalization with Israel and trade
He said that Fox has stores in a number of settlements and
“supports Israeli occupation,” adding that it was “inconceivable that while the
Europeans have decided to boycott settler products, Palestinians are helping an
Israeli company do business in Ramallah.”
The uproar comes amid plans to
restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and could
potentially prove a flash point for popular discontent as the talks
“It’s very rare for an Israeli company to open under its own
name in Ramallah,” said Avi Nudelman, the former CEO of the Israeli-Palestinian Chamber of Commerce.
While there are numerous products imported from
Israel available on Palestinian shelves, such as Elite, Osem, Tnuva and Strauss,
an Israelibranded store is novel.
“I hope that there won’t be any
problems,” he said. “Ultimately it’s a good thing, and I hope it
Fadi al-Arouri, a Palestinian journalist involved in the
antinormalization campaign, said that the opening of a Fox branch in Ramallah
was a “stain of disgrace in light of calls for boycotting the state of
occupation and its products.”
Arouri accused the PA’s Economy Ministry of
facilitating the entry of Israeli products to the Palestinian market by giving
Israeli companies and merchants permits to work in the Palestinian
A spokesman for the ministry, Hatem Sarhan, said that the
planned Fox store in Ramallah was not part of the Israeli firm. He said a
company under the same name had registered with his ministry in April 2008 as a
local Palestinian business.
A spokesman for Finance Minister Yair Lapid
denied that the process had anything to do with recent meetings between Lapid
and his Palestinian counterpart Shukri Bishara, in which the two pledged to
restore economic cooperation. The Economy and Trade Ministry said it had not
been made aware of the plans, as Israeli companies do not require permission to
The Palestinian activists are also opposed to the opening
of an IKEA store in the West Bank under the pretext that the Swedish company has
an Israeli agent.
Last week, Palestinians reported that IKEA was planning
to open its first store in the West Bank.
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