Report: Anti-settlement initiative gains ground

Published yesterday (updated) 16/05/2010 20:22

Bethlehem – Ma’an – At least 17 businesses in the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim have closed down since the start of a Palestinian Authority boycott several months ago, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

The East Jerusalem-area settlement’s Mishor Adumim industrial zone is facing “an insufferable situation,” Avi Elkayam, who represents its 300 factory owners, was quoted as saying in reference to the PA’s efforts to isolate settlement goods from Palestinian markets and discourage Palestinians from working in settlements.

Elkayam said a stone-cutting factory closed this month because Palestinian inspectors were routinely intercepting supply trucks, making business untenable. According to the report, the abandoned facility is now a concrete shell filled with bird droppings, and a “for rent” sign is posted outside.

“We are definitely committed to a path of nonviolent resistance and defiance in the face of the settlement enterprise, and we are defiantly expressing our right to boycott those products and I believe it is working,” Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told the US newspaper. “We will continue to do more.”

The report also quoted a Western diplomat who expressed concerns that the nonviolent-resistance campaign could backfire, and Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who slammed the initiative.

Moving too fast?

The decision by the PA to prevent all work in settlements by 2011 is a hasty decision that requires a commitment to providing alternative employment to Palestinians, officials said Tuesday.

Ahmad Muheisin, a refugee camp leader, and Yousef Abu Maria, an Al-Quds Open University lecturer, both voiced reservations at PA Economy Minister Hasan Abu Libdeh’s announcement that the ban on settlement work would be strictly enforced.

Speaking to Palestine TV’s No Spin talk show, both officials asserted that while they were totally opposed to the use of Palestinian labor in Israeli settlements, Abu Libdeh ought to provide a strategy that would provide job opportunities for the thousands of Palestinians currently working in West Bank settlements before they are forced into leaving their current work.

Muheisin told Ma’an editor-in-chief Nasser Laham, who hosts No Spin, that all Palestinian factions should participate in the decision on banning work in settlements, highlighting disagreement in PA’s decision-making circles on Abu Libdeh’s announcement. “Nothing in Palestinian law prohibits work in Israeli settlements. Thus, their decisions shouldn’t be hasty.”

‘Work out another solution’

Last Tuesday, Abu Libdeh said no Palestinian laborers would be working in settlements by the end of 2011.

“There are currently 25,000 Palestinians who make their living from working in Israeli settlements. They should stop as they aren’t any different from 200,000 other unemployed workers,” Abu Libdeh told Ma’an.

“Even though Palestinian law prohibits work in Israeli settlements, we know that a large number of people left their jobs and have gone to work in settlements,” he said, urging laborers to “work out another solution.”

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