PA declares mass settlement boycott

Campaign looks to ban all settlement-made products.

May 19, 2010 23:50
3 minute read.
PA destroys produce from the settlements

PADestroyWatermelons. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Thousands of Palestinian volunteers on Tuesday launched a home-to-home campaign throughout the West Bank to persuade Palestinians to boycott settlement-made products.

The campaign, the first of its kind in the West Bank, marks the beginning of an “all-out war” against the settlements, Palestinian Authority officials said.

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Earlier this year, President Mahmoud Abbas signed a law banning the sale of settlement products in PA-controlled territories and barring Palestinians from working in settlements.

The campaign is being organized by a special group that was established recently with the sole goal of preventing settlement products from entering Palestinian markets.

The group, called the Karama National Empowerment Fund, was established by the PA Ministry of Economy.

Its declared goal is to “affirm our desire and determination to rise up and shake off the effects of settlement contamination in our Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps, first and foremost, via replacing settlement products in our local markets with those that are proudly produced in Palestine, with Palestinian hands.”

The volunteers will go to hundreds of thousands of homes in the West Bank and hand out brochures that include a list of at least 500 products believed to be manufactured in settlements.

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The weeklong campaign is aimed at helping the Palestinians achieve economic independence, said Adnan Husseini, the PA governor of Jerusalem.

“We call on our people to boycott all settlement products because these settlements have been labeled illegal by the international community. Our people are capable of leading this economic war,” he said.

The PA’s mufti, Muhammad Hussein, said that the Palestinian “war” on the economy of the settlements was a “civilized” method created by the Palestinians in order to achieve their goals.

Raed Dibai, coordinator of the anti-settlement drive in Nablus, said that the launching of the campaign on the anniversary of the “Nakba” was a “clear message that our people have waged an intifada against those responsible for the “Nakba.”

Also on Tuesday, PA policemen confiscated trucks loaded with watermelons in some Palestinian cities after claiming that they had come from settlements.

Some Palestinians, however, expressed concern over the fate of thousands of laborers who would lose their jobs as a result of the anti-settlement boycott.

Hafez Barghouti, editor of Al-Hayat al-Jadida, the PA’s official mouthpiece, said the PA government should find jobs for the affected laborers. He said that Palestinian businesses, which are expected to benefit from the boycott, should be the first to absorb the laborers when and if they are fired from jobs in settlements.

The Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip responded to the PA campaign with an initiative of its own on Tuesday.

On its new Web site, it called on consumers to combat the boycott by purchasing products made by 58 companies with facilities in Judea and Samaria, including Pillsbury baking products, Nature Valley granola from General Mills, NatuR&D, Carmel Carpets, Brita, Supergum, Gazoz and Ahava cosmetics.

In a statement it released to the media, the council said the boycott was a “hostile action” that must be met with an immediate and sharp response.

Such a boycott is an explicit violation of the 1994 Paris Agreement, the Protocol on Economic Relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The council called on Israel to use tax money it collects for the PA, to compensate the companies in Judea and Samaria for the losses they will sustain as a result of the boycott.

It also asked Israel to close its ports to Palestinian imports and to refuse to engage in proximity talks with those involved in the boycott.

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