PA to ban work in settlements

Economics minister: Palestinian society must be consistent in its opposition.

Palestinian builder 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Palestinian builder 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Ramallah – The Palestinian Authority will move to prevent Palestinian workers from taking jobs in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the Palestinian economics minister said Sunday.
Palestinians vehemently oppose the settlements Israel has built on land they want for a future state, but an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Palestinians work in the settlements. Palestinian construction workers have been key to building homes for settlers, while others work in factories in settlements. Many say the West Bank's poor economy leaves them no choice.
The law, set to be signed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by the end of the month, would constitute the most determined Palestinian campaign yet against the settlement economy.
Economics Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh, who drafted the law, said it is important for the Palestinians to be consistent in their opposition. "My population, my society, is contributing to the lifeline of the settlements, so I am targeting this contribution," he said.
The Palestinian Authority will try to find alternatives for thosecurrently working in settlements, but they will not be forced to leave,Abu Libdeh said. Palestinians working in settlements in the futurewould be breaking the law, he said, but he would not discuss penalties.
The legislation also bans the sale of West Bank settlement products inPalestinian shops, he said. He estimated the annual sale of settlementgoods to Palestinian businesses at between $200 million to $500 million.
In recent months, Palestinian security forces have begun interceptingshipments of settlement goods to West Bank markets, he said, but wouldnot say how much merchandise has been confiscated.