The Boycott: A boomerang in the Palestinians’ face

The BDS movement jeopardizes the jobs of over 23,000 Palestinians

Palestinians call for a boycott 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinians call for a boycott 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
By encouraging the world community to adopt a position in favor of a boycott against Israeli products, the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement directly jeopardize the jobs of over 23,000 Palestinians legally employed in the settlements.
The wages these Palestinians earn not only improve their own standards of living, but also fuel the Palestinian economy as a whole.
Let us recall for a moment a few undisputed facts: the average unemployment rate in the Palestinian Authority is close to 21 percent and the average wage for a Palestinian worker in “Palestine” is approximately $300 per month.
In comparison, the average monthly salary paid by Israeli companies to workers in the settlements - regardless of their origin - is about $1,500 dollars – in addition to the basket of Israeli social benefits including retirement, medical, and unemployment benefits. Let us also not forget that each Palestinian worker supports up to 10 other people in the Palestinian Authority with their salary.
I am a strategy consultant, currently advising Israeli companies on how to deal with boycotts directed against their products.  With all due respect to Abraham Burg, a former Knesset speaker who recently published an article in Britain’s The Independent and in France’s Le Monde adopting the BDS’ position in favor of a boycott, the employment of Palestinian workers in the settlements was sanctioned in both the Oslo and Paris Accords signed between Israel and the PLO. Mr. Burg seems to have conveniently forgotten this fact, which is rather surprising, considering that he was a member of the Knesset with the Labor party at the time these Accords were signed.
Should these territories ever be transferred to the Palestinian Authority as a result of negotiations between the parties, it will be up to the PA to decide whether or not it wants to keep the West Bank's Israeli industries open. 
The following questions must be asked of the BDS movement: can the Palestinian Authority give alternative jobs to the 23,000 workers currently employed in the settlements? The answer is no. Can they give up the taxes they collect from these employments? The answer is no. Can they forever rely on grants from Europe, the US, or other Arab states to sustain their economy? Again, the answer is no.
From a purely financial standpoint, closing factories in the settlements would not harm all of the Israeli companies currently located there, as some would simply move their production to China where labor is in fact cheaper. 
A company like SodaStream, for example, currently maintains their production facility in the settlements only because they took it upon themselves to set an example of fruitful cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians – despite the BDS’s incessant efforts to undermine it.
It is in the interest of the Palestinian workers that the PA dissociate itself with the BDS campaigns, not only because of the agreements that have been signed by the parties, but also because continuing down this road would eventually turn the boycott into a devastating boomerang in their own faces.
The writer is a strategy consultant and member of the French-Israel Chamber of Commerce.