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 city.

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 franchise.

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 courts.

Activist Zeid al-Shuaibi said that opening a Fox branch in Ramallah was in violation of PA laws banning normalization with Israel and trade with settlers.

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 continue.

“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 works.”

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 territories.

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 operate abroad.

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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