'PA Boycotts are obstacles to peace’

Rivlin: "The gov't hasn't understood the severity of the issue."

Rivlin 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski  [file])
Rivlin 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Palestinian Authority has “declared war” on the Israeli economy by boycotting settlement goods, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) charged during a solidarity visit he made on Thursday morning to the Barkan Industrial Park in Samaria.
The West Bank park, located off Route 5 near Ariel, is home to 143 factories. Half of its 5,000 workers are Palestinian.
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Rivlin spoke on the same day that the PA inaugurated its house-to-house campaign, in which 3,000 volunteers are knocking on doors and explaining the significance of the boycott.
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad plans to accompany a group in the Ramallah area.
In Barkan, Rivlin did some handshaking of his own with Palestinian employees. He spoke with them in Arabic and asked about their working conditions.
The government has not understood how serious an issue this is, Rivlin said. The boycott could soon spread to other countries, he warned.
He added that it was dangerously reminiscent of the former Arab boycott of Israeli products, which predated the creation of the state.
“To boycott goods produced in Barkan is to boycott goods in Tel Aviv, Sderot and Kiryat Arba,” he said.
He added that he heard that the PA was seeking international funding to compensate workers for jobs in the settlements, which it is demanding that they leave.
At Shamir Salads, Rivlin donned a white cap and gown as he toured aroom where Palestinians were busy packaging eggplant mixtures intosmall plastic containers.
“We have to live together,” he told them in Arabic.
“Place like Barkan Industrial Park are examples of coexistence,” Rivlin said. “This is the bridge which will bring peace.
“The Jewish people have returned to their homeland where there arepeople [Palestinians] who were born here. We [Israelis andPalestinians] have to live together,” he added.
It was boycotts such as the one declared by the PA that were the true“obstacles to peace,” Rivlin said. “You can’t make peace and make warat the same time.”
Samaria Regional Council spokesman Gershon Mesika said the governmenthad not done enough to stop the boycott. He suggested that if itcontinued, a tariff should be imposed on Palestinian products.