Both hindrance and blight

The Palestinian boycott of Israeli goods that originate in settlements is picking up speed. This is a very laudable initiative and a form of resistance that might, combined with other tactics, gain some result.

For a start, it hits Israel where it hurts, namely in the pocket. While the exact market share of settlement goods in the Palestinian economy is not known, since Israel does not label goods properly, estimates suggest that it is as high as 15 per cent.

That would represent a significant amount of money taken out of the settlement economy. Such a shortfall would have to be covered by the Israeli government.

Israel already subsidises settlements to tempt people to live in them, and while a boycott may not change this policy, it will at least make it more expensive.

Indeed, the Israeli response has been predictably shrill, one minister, the ever-so-entertaining Danny Ayalon of Israeli foreign ministry-Turkish envoy chair fiasco fame, going so far as to call the boycott “incitement”. This way, it won’t be long before not buying products that originate in Jewish settlements, illegal under international law, will be considered anti-Semitic.

More considered responses have suggested that the boycott is in violation of the Paris Protocols, the economic accords that were signed with the political accords at Oslo.

While those accords do not mention settlement products specifically, it would be rather disingenuous for Israel to invoke them as long as Israel is preventing Palestinian goods from reaching the Israeli market.

Israeli hypocrisy notwithstanding, the Palestinian boycott initiative is something to get behind. Already European countries are wobbling over the issue, some firmly behind a boycott of settlement products.

It would behoove Arab countries to push as hard as possible on the Europeans to commit to a full-fledged settlement product ban. Europe, in this case, is exactly the right target, because the EU is Israel’s largest trade partner.

A European ban on settlement goods will really hurt Israel. It may even force some hard-headed realists in Israel to understand, once and for all, that their settlements are a hindrance to peace and normalcy, in addition to being an unethical and aesthetic blight on the land.

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