BetEl Factory 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
Palestinian Authority National Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libda defended his
government’s decision to boycott goods produced in the settlements, in an
interview with The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Abu Libda said the move was
in accordance with international law and necessary for Palestinian
In May, the PA announced that it would be enforcing a
complete boycott of all goods made in the West Bank settlements, an
that was accompanied by a door-to-door enlistment campaign and a public
of settlement-made goods.
As part of the campaign, residents were given a
booklet containing photos and descriptions of settlement-produced goods
asked to take the “Al-Karameh,” or dignity pledge, and place stickers on
doorways reading, “My conscience is at peace...
This place is clean from
“While we are cleaning the Palestinian market from
settlement products, we continue to commit to the Paris Protocol [on
Relations between the Government of the State of Israel and the
Liberation Organization] and welcome Israeli products in our markets, in
of the problems we have with Israel concerning its own commitments to
Protocol,” said Abu Libda.
The national economy minister said that
Palestinian homes and businesses would remain full of Israeli-made
that the PA would continue to be one of Israel’s largest trading
would no longer allow products made in the settlements. To stress his
the boycott was only targeted at settlers, Abu Libda said that any
transferred their businesses into what he characterized as “Israel
be taken off the list of boycotted products and welcomed as a trading
“It doesn’t make sense for Palestinians to be part of the
lifeline of settlements that are built on Palestinian soil and to be
part of the
prosperity of the settlers, who are taking a very harsh, radical and
position against the Palestinians,” said Abu Libda.
“We believe that the
settlements’ prosperity will be an obstacle to the enabling of an
government to reach peace with the Palestinian side,” he went on. “It is
not in the interest of the believers of the twostate solution that we
to the welfare of the settlers. The settlers should find it a bit more
to settle in the West Bank.”
The PA cabinet minister said he had heard of
several attempts by settlers to bypass the boycott by changing their
addresses to Tel Aviv or elsewhere within the Green Line, but that the
methods of detecting such attempts and would not let them pass.
in the 21st century. There are many ways of detecting where things are
are not producing things in tunnels or underground,” he said. “Also, the
majority of workers in the settlement factories are Palestinians.”
asked how the PA would handle the anticipated firing of Palestinian
their settler employers following the boycott, Abu Libda responded that
was working on reintegrating the workers into the Palestinian job
“In our tradition, God forbids a person from going to bed on a
full stomach while his neighbor goes hungry... These workers are part of
people, they are my family members and my neighbors,” said Abu
“Nobody likes to see people suffering from unemployment and
hunger, but in the meantime, while we are keen on supporting the
of the workers into the economy, we have more than 200,000 Palestinians
to worry about,” he went on. “An unemployed Palestinian is an unemployed
Palestinian, regardless of who they are.”
Abu Libda added that what he
would really like to see was those Palestinians fired from the
companies – as well as one or two other unemployed Palestinians for each
– go to work in Israel.
“The Israeli private sector and the Palestinian
private sector are far smarter than their respective officials. They
know how to
work together and bring about positive results,” said Abu Libda.
asked about the PA’s involvement in the international BDS (boycott,
and sanctions) movement, which calls for a complete economic boycott of
Israeli products without distinguishing between goods made on either
side of the
Green Line, Abu Libda said that although the BDS coordinating body was
the Palestinian territories, the movement was not part of the PA and did
reflect its policies.
“We do not control the actions of the civil society
in the Palestinian territories,” said Abu Libda.
“We are latecomers to
the boycott game and are often asked why we waited so long,” he added.
sanctions existed before us and will likely continue even after we clear
homes of settlement products, but the actions of groups like the BDS
should make Israelis and the Israeli government take a pause and think,
this happening? Israel is doing it to itself. The flotilla incident was
Palestinian-manufactured. It is the acts of Israel that caused it.”