Archive for the Palestinian Economy Category

Palestinian traders clear shops of settlement goods

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Palestinian Economy on August 30, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Published yesterday (updated) 29/08/2010 22:59

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinian traders have submitted 25,000 applications for a Dignity medal to certify their compliance with the government ban on trading in settlement produce, an official said Sunday.

National Dignity Fund director Omer Qabaha said 8,000 traders have already received the medal, following inspections to check their stores are free of settlement goods.

Qababa praised merchants for their keenness to commit to the new policy, noting that they voluntarily requested checks on their shops. He urged traders who have not applied yet to do so promptly.

President Mahmoud Abbas banned the sale or purchase of settlement produce in the West Bank in April.

On Local Boycott and Deception

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Palestinian Economy, Profiting from Zionism, Zionism on August 25, 2010 by Marcy Newman

By Khalil Nakhleh

Like many thousands of Palestinians in Ramallah, I feel utterly confused by the dishonesty of being railroaded concerning local boycott of ‘settlements’ products. Because we—my wife and I—are committed to the principle and act of boycott, as a means of resistance, I decided to clarify the primary issues involved, in order to minimize, as much as possible, daily contradictions. I embarked on sorting out, systematically, methodically and with clarity, related major issues.

Enemies and Friends

The distinction is not as clear as it sounds. The Ramallah “Government”, its ministries, agencies, and commissions, repeat one line, and want to ram it down our throats. This line can be simplified as follows:

“Our primary enemy, at this historical juncture, is the illegal settlements in the West Bank. Therefore, and in order to punish these settlements, and force them out, we, and our international ‘friends’, must boycott their products.”

The words used do not reflect conviction, on the part of the “Government”, that: these are Zionist settler colonies; and having been established on stolen Palestinian lands in the West Bank, since 1967, is only another phase of the Zionist settler-colonial project that started in the rest of Palestine, since much earlier than 1948; and this is not, necessarily, the final phase of this onslaught. But we are “dooped” into thinking that this is so.

We are not being prepared to confront other imminent phases in the not-so-distant future in the proliferation of Zionist settler colonies, in the body of the Arab Homeland. Just as they are in the Syrian Golan, it is certain they will spread into Lebanon, Iraq, and the Gulf region, at least for now. The message imposed on us, through this publicly very visible hoop la of boycotting “settlement” products, says that the “settlements” are our enemy and the rest of Zionist Israel, so-called “Israel proper”, is not.

Zionist Israel is actually our “partner”, (and a preferred one at that) who has the potential of becoming our friend; but if challenged, it may become upset, mean and vengeful. Thus, it’s not expedient for us to boycott its products, which flood our markets.

On the contrary, we should facilitate disseminating and selling Israeli goods in our mini- markets and super markets, and in the process, help escalate the profits of those mercantile intermediaries who became their exclusive brokers, and the monopolies they created. After all, these exclusive special brokers are Palestinians, aren’t they? And they provide employment opportunities through these monopolies to our youth, don’t they? Such exclusive commercial brokering, according to this logic, therefore, helps “develop” our society, because they garner extra capital, and they circulate it! To whom, where, and with what effect, it’s not clear, and, worse yet, no one is posing these questions.

If Zionist Israel is inching towards the “friends” category, then all the dealers who work hard to market its products within our midst, and effectively undermine and impede our ability at producing alternatives for these products, should also be considered our “friends”. It also stands to reason that all those Palestinians and non-Palestinians who work very actively to normalize relations with Zionist Israel, from the President down, should be placed squarely in our “friends” category column.

Furthermore, shouldn’t this apply to all those, Palestinians and non-Palestinians, who work very diligently at providing detailed and intimate information to Zionist Israel about our society, our local family structure and gatherings, about who does what, where and when, about our community-based resistance, about every little thing we do and say, i.e., the informers and collaborators(al-‘umala’)? If so, where are our enemies then? Isn’t it odd that their category is shrinking rapidly, to an infinitesimal degree, while we’re still under occupation and oppression?

Armed with a slightly clearer deciphering of who our local “enemies” and “friends” are, but in the absence of clear “official” guidelines of who our international “enemies” and “friends” are, I felt I was all set to wade through the available products at our favorite mini-market. I embarked with the hope (proved unjustified later on) that our favorite mini-market would stock fewer products coming from Zionist Israel, than would supermarkets.

As I perused through the shelves, my confusion persisted. In the first place, almost all products were marked in Hebrew. By reading that, I felt somewhat proud that finally I could get a clearer idea about which to boycott, and which to buy. But then I realized that products coming from China, Turkey, Portugal, the USA, Morocco, Egypt, Zionist Israel … all had Hebrew on them. This did not help me in identifying those products coming from the “settlements”! (Products coming from Pesgat Zeev, or Ariel, or Modi’in, or Petah Tikva, or Nahariya, etc, are not marked “product of settlements”, but “product of Israel.)

Since we don’t produce fresh milk yet, I veered to major Israeli companies, mainly, Tenuva, for that. But, I couldn’t tell, however, if “Tenuva” fresh milk is settlement-contaminated, or not. Moreover, what about the “al-Bustan” humos that is supposedly coming from the Palestinian city of Imm al-Fahm from inside Zionist Israel? Should I boycott that, even though its owners are indigenous Palestinians (perhaps with Zionist partners), who, most probably, succeeded in building their humos factory as a reward for their cooperation?

The deeper I delved, the more confused I became. Since we are committed to practice our boycott approach with zest, we stopped buying Nestlee products, specifically, the “Nescafe”, after it was reported about their plant in the settlement of Sderot in Al-Naqab, contiguous to besieged Gaza. And since we boycott visible Israeli products, we could not look for an alternative there. We searched for the few non-Israeli alternatives available at our favorite mini-market. We started buying “Maxwell House” instant coffee, as a more politically correct, alternative. It is manufactured, however, by an American company, Kraft Foods, coming to us directly from Germany.

Likewise, looking for “Omega-3” sardines, we found ourselves buying the available “small mackerels”, product of Portugal (EU), but coming to us via an Israeli importing company. The only “contaminants-free” sardines we could find were a product of Morocco, but coming to us through a British export-import company. But Morocco presents another worrying and confusing case for us. On the one hand, it is an Arab country, but on the “political correctness” scale, it is hardly distinguishable from the US or France. We also found and bought canned mushrooms, product of China, but coming to us through a Palestinian importer in Tulkarm, and so on, and so on. The success of this process demanded an on-going research, considering our limited choices.

But the nagging problem of who our real enemies are, persisted, and begged for deeper explanation. Isn’t America our real enemy? Aren’t EU countries, who support America readily in every major decision it takes against us, our real enemies? Isn’t current Egypt, whose American-propped up geriatric Pharaoh (AKA President) is instrumental in blocking basic foods from reaching our besieged people in Gaza, our enemy? Is Turkey, who insists on maintaining and developing serious and far-reaching strategic relations and cooperation with Israel, in restructuring and controlling our region, through an actual division of labor between it and Zionist Israel, our enemy or our friend? How can we know without clear guidance?

To relieve my confusion, I escaped into, what I thought, would be a straight forward situation, the vegetables and fruits. I went to Abu Issa, our preferred vegetable and fruit little haven. I said: Abu Issa, do you have “baladi” (domestic) pears, or apples? Yes, he answered: “those ‘green-skinned’ pears. I next asked, where are they coming from? The Golan, he answered. Feeling elated that he considered the Golan as “baladi”, I bought some, because I assumed readily that they are coming from the proud and un-acquiescing Syrian-Arab-Druze villages in the Golan, defying various checkpoints to bring them to Ramallah. I had no doubt that this would be indeed “baladi”. But then I started doubting my own certainty. How can we be sure that they have not originated in the Golan Zionist settlements, which have riddled their entire space? What evidence do I have that these ‘green-skinned’ pears and apples that I am buying, unquestionably, are not coming from a collaborative project between Arab-Syrian Golanis and Zionist settlers?

Then I moved to the vegetable corner clearly marked “intajuna” (our production). There I found, after a brief enquiry, what is in season now: eggplants, cucumbers, tomatoes, koussa (squash), bamyeh (okra), cauliflower, grapes and figs. I was relieved, because I thought sticking to what’s in season, under the label of “intajuna”, lessens to a large degree the state of confusion with which I started. Consequently, we concluded in our household, that we need to stick to what we can buy directly from the farmers—our local producers—and what’s in season, even if we have to eat “bamyeh” 3 times a week in certain instances!

Our Oslo-induced “National” Production and Development

Why is it then that our economy had not focused on production of alternatives to basic food stuffs that we need, and which will minimize, and gradually cut, our dependence on products coming to us from our enemies? It is simple. The “Oslo-induced” ‘national economy’ is, by and large, nothing more than a national “warsheh” (workshop) of consumption. Here we are being trained and drilled on the most effective methods of how to consume goods and products produced by others, but imported to us through an entire network of dealerships, fancy marketing schemes, and generous availability of credit. This is what makes quick money, unprecedented windfall profits, and opens wide our entire area for quick return on investments, through lucrative services of banks, insurance companies, 5-star hotels, micro-credit, construction, mortgage systems, restaurants and eating places, etc. This is what Zionist Israel encourages; this is what “donor funding agencies” push for and reward; and this is what our capitalists (small and big, new and old) welcome with open arms.

I keep wondering about all the new and fancy cars on the roads in Ramallah: who owns them, and where did they get the money to purchase them? The few Oslo-induced monopolies, in which Palestinian and other Arab capitalists invested some of their funds, are basically service monopolies. They are the ones who are involved heavily in car dealerships, dealerships of other fancy foreign products that cater to the new Oslo-created elite, real estate “development”, telecommunications, etc. The few “production” monopolies focus on construction-related materials; not on agricultural production.

It is not by accident that the investments of hundreds of millions of dollars, over the last seventeen years, were not directed to agricultural production, using land as the main resource in the production process. Why were there no serious investments in making sure that we control the comprehensive cycle of chicken production, from the eggs to the little chicks, to the feed, etc, for example? What about the productive development of goats and sheep milk and other environmentally and culturally adaptive cheeses and dairy products? Etc, etc. To do that in a feasible way, we ought to have insisted from the onset, at least twenty years ago, that all our land and water resources remain under our—the people’s—exclusive control. It is clear to me that our investors, our capitalists, were never interested in having an independent economy in the first place? A very dependent economy under continued occupation is where the profits are! It’s less of a hassle, and less confrontational. Furthermore, a very dependent and empty miniature fiefdom of self-rule under continued occupation is where the profits are!

Let’s look at a glaring example of an Oslo-induced production project, which, at first glance may appear to contradict my above generalization. The glaring example is the so-called “National Beverage Company”. This is a Coca-Cola franchise that boasts annual sales of 10 million cases. It is neither “national” nor a wise health choice beverage. The name of the company is a classic case of deception. The essence of it is that we—our capitalists—rush to use our precious and scarce water to produce an unhealthy drink for our young generations, and to sell, in the process, addiction and positive identity with our primary enemy—the USA, for profit. Clearly, this type of “production” undermines and negates the entire notion of boycott and of independence.

– Dr. Khalil Nakhleh, a Palestinian anthropologist, independent researcher and writer, who for the last three decades has sought to generate People-Centered Liberationist Development in Palestine. He is working on a book, Development Ltd: The Role of Capital in Impeding People-Centered Liberationist Development, expected to be ready for publication in 2011. He contributed this article to Contact him at: abusama[at]

Salfit chamber of commerce says boycott is ‘National duty’

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Palestinian Economy, Profiting from Zionism on August 14, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Published today 12:02

SALFIT (Ma’an) — The Salfit Chamber of Commerce called for the clearing of the Palestinian market of settlement produce “as a national duty,” a statement read Saturday.

The statement was distributed to traders and industrial workshops, which read that “morality and national duty calls on us all to boycott settlement goods and clear our markets, before penalties are imposed by the law.”

The chamber of commerce further called on merchants to lower prices and ensure no expired goods, or those unfit for consumption, are sold in their stores.

Interview: “Israel has turned Gaza into the largest concentration camp in history”

Posted in Apartheid, Labor Organizing, Palestinian Economy, Palestinian Education, Why Boycott?!, Zionism on August 7, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Interview with Haidar Eid

Founding member of the PCACBI (Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel).


The world was appalled by the Israeli massacre at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009. But then Gaza disappeared from Western news media. What is the situation today in Gaza, a year and a half after that genocidal attack?

To best describe the situation in Gaza today would be to refer to what Richard Falk, the UN rapporteur to the Occupied Territories, called “prelude to genocide” and what the Israeli anti-Zionist activist Ilan Pappe called a “slow-motion genocide.” Despite the fact that bombs are not falling over us every few minutes as they did during the 22 day genocidal war, when the Israelis bomb or attack, they do so to kill as many Palestinians as possible.

After the occupation redeployed its troops around Gaza in 2006, what was a Bantustan turned into the largest concentration camp since Auschwitz and Warsaw during WW II as a direct result of the brutal blockade. We have over 90 medicines unavailable. Prenatal births, kidney dialysis and cancer patients are doomed to fatality as soon as they are diagnosed. Unavailable medical equipments and appropriate medical care are extinct and the slightest flue could have serious repercussions. A four year old child would not know what spaghetti or chocolate taste like because Israel has a list of 40 basic items that it allows in. We are treated as prisoners, rather much worse. Jimmy Carter said “Palestinians of Gaza are treated worse than animals!”

We wish we were prisoners in a so-called First World country for at least they have visitation rights which we don’t. Some of us have not seen their families and relatives for years now, and they could be only 40 minutes away in Jerusalem or in the other Bantustans of the West Bank. As a university professor, I have no resources to undergo research in my domain. The material I assign to my students is what I could find available on the internet—and only when electricity allows. Basic material like stationary and paper are unavailable. Books are also unavailable. Fuel is unavailable and I have lost my best students as a result of the deterioration of their conditions.

Many of their parents were factory workers but after Israel bombed factories and due to its hermetic siege, over forty thousand workers have lost their income. The occupation shoots, injures and often kills farmers as they harvest or water their crops. The fishermen are not allowed to exceed three miles at sea and are attacked, imprisoned and often killed at a distance of one mile depending on the soldiers’ whims. You can’t sleep, you can’t write, you can’t love, you can’t express yourself, or your pain under these conditions and the trauma is only growing as injustice continues.

How was the Zionist attack on May 31st against the humanitarian flotilla seen in Gaza?

It was a surprise and not a surprise. Yes, Israel is a terrorist state. One built on the blood and dead bodies of the Palestinians it has been ethnically cleansing since 1948. So, it’s killing of peace activists was not a surprise. What was a surprise was that it did it as the whole world was watching. We did not expect Israel to be stupid, but then again, isn’t that what fascist states mean to do? Ploy their own destruction? Zionism is a colonial movement and hence it is self-defeating.

Can we say it was a political victory for the Palestinian people, since the true nature of Zionism was revealed and Israel is isolated? Did that have a role in the temporary suspension of the blockade by Egypt? What is the situation on the Egypt/Gaza border?

How many more people should be killed for Israel to be held accountable in front of the international community and punished for its crimes? Weren’t the 413 children killed during the 22 day attacks enough? Weren’t the thousands of Palestinian killed since 1967 enough for the international community to put Israel in its place? The international community is complicit in the siege and in the killing as it stands silent and in denial. Richard Goldstone very clearly called Israel’s attacks “war crimes and possible crimes against humanity!”

You are wrong to believe that the Rafah Crossing is open as the movement of people freely through is not allowed. Out of thousands a few hundreds are allowed, and their conditions are usually severe, and they have tried numerous times before that. If all the crossing surrounding Gaza were opened and Rafeh remained closed, then the siege remains. Rafeh is the only crossing that guarantees the freedom of movement of Gazans; it is our only exit to the external world.

The Israeli attack against the activists of the flotilla of the Free Gaza movement shocked everyone who feels respect for human beings. Why does Israel still blockade Gaza?

With the support of the international community and in particular the support of the US, Israel will not back down, it will continue the blockade, the settlement expansion, and the home demolitions in the West Bank. Its arrogance and power are to no limits and it won’t stop at anything until it is put in its place. As I mentioned earlier, the blockade is a continuation of Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide that it has been practicing since 1948. We are a “surplus population”, like Native Americans, that should not have existed in the first place!

But the direct reason as to why it still blockades Gaza is that Palestinians, “naively” taking George Bush for his words about “spreading democracy in the Middle East”, went to the polling stations in January 2006 and voted a party that neither Israel nor the Us and Official Arab regimes want, a party that is against the Oslo Accords. That was a huge blow to the Bush doctrine and the peace industry. Hence the collective punishment by Israel, with the direct support and participation of the West.

Do you see any possibilities of gains for Palestinians through the so called peace process led by the Quartet (USA, ONU, EU, and Russia)?

Haven’t we learnt from Oslo and Camp David that Israel translates its military power onto the negotiation table? There will be and should be no peace without justice. That means for Israel to be punished for its war crimes and crimes against humanity and for the UN resolution 194 to be implemented and the return of all refugees who were expelled in the Nakba of 1948. No negotiation is possible between the executioner and the victim. After Gaza 2009, we no longer have faith in the international community, but in civil society. Due to the huge imbalance of power, Israel being the largest nuclear power in the region and owning the fourth largest army in the world on one hand, and Palestinians with stones and sometimes firecrackers called “rockets” on the other, the only way this imbalance could be overcome is to build on an international solidarity movement. There have been turning points in the Palestinian issue, with the First and Second Intifada, with Gaza 2009, and now the massacre against peace activists.

Similar to the growing international solidarity movement that lead to, amongst other pillars of struggle, the liberation of South Africa and the collapse of the racist apartheid regime, the liberation of Palestine is through this path. And what could be more powerful than the global BDS movement against Israel that has resulted in the South African dock workers boycotting apartheid Israel, the British UCU union of colleges and universities boycott, the Scottish and Irish trade unions, and also the achievements of brave student bodies in the US– such as the Hampshire college, UC, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan at Dearborne– that resulted in divestment from some companies that support Israel.

How is the Obama administration seen in Gaza?

The Obama administration is not different from Bush’s. When Obama gave his much talked about speech at Cairo University, very few people took him seriously. They were proven right only last week when he held the white flag before Netanyahu upon the latter’s visit to the White House. Israel is still expanding its settlements, ethnically cleansing Jerusalem, besieging Gaza, killing Palestinians and Internationals with the full support of the Obama administration. Obama never had a single word of sympathy with the murdered children and starving women of Gaza. The only difference between Obama and Bush, when it comes to Palestine, is only in style, not substance.

Do you believe the Arab and Muslim governments supported the Palestinian people against Israel all they should?

A defeatist attitude governs the official Arab regimes. The idea of an invincible Israel and the constant fear and need to satisfy the US are prevalent. The organization of Islamic conferences along with the Arab league have failed the Palestinian people and failed to put an end to this deadly siege. The mainstream and dominant political discourse in the Arab world is to make peace with Israel, no matter what this entails.

What is the importance of the BDS campaign (Boycott, De-invest, and Sanctions) to isolate Israel? Why is it important to establish a link between Israel and South African apartheid?

Our BDS campaign is modeled on the South African boycott campaign. Its importance emanates from the fact that there is a huge power imbalance between Israel and the Palestinians, similar to the imbalance between the apartheid regime and anti-apartheids campaign. The international community was called on to intervene and live up to its responsibilityagainst the racist regime. We expect the same. In the mid-70’s an UN resolution considered apartheid a crime against humanity. Israel is an apartheid state that discriminates against the 1.2 million Israelis of Palestinian descent. But the 2005 Palestinian call for BDS called also for the end of the military occupation and colonization of the 1967 areas and the return of refugees in accordance with UN resolution 194. In other words, the importance of the BDS emanates from the fact that it is a rights-based campaign and the fact that it addresses ordinary people all over the world, represented by civil society, to live up to their moral responsibility. The campaign is democratic, secular, inclusive and universal. It worked against the apartheid regime, and it is working now against apartheid Israel.

What is your view of the PNA? And of the political forces on the left such as PFLP and DFLP?

The PNA is the product of the Oslo Accords, which were signed in 1993 in betrayal of the aspirations of the Palestinian people. The PLO recognized Israel, whereas the latter refused to recognize the Palestinian people’s right to an independent state. Oslo gave the wrong impression that there are two equal parties fighting for border adjustments. Israel managed to get rid of the responsibility of administering heavily populated areas in the West Bank and Gaza, and has kept total control over the land, air and sea. Israeli occupation forces were redeployed and never withdrew.

The Oslo accords led to the creation of a neo-colonial administration at the expense of the PLO; an administration that does not have real power in spite of the flag, the national anthem, the presidencies, premierships and ministries: all mean absolutely nothing except a perpetuation of the occupation, but in a different gown. After 17 years of the “peace industry”, Gaza has been transformed into a large open-air prison, a concentration camp a la Auschwitz and Warsaw, and the West Bank has been sliced into three major Bantustans—but with no sovereignty whatsoever.

The most dangerous outcome of Oslo is that it has managed to pacify the Palestinian Left. Nothing is left of Palestinian Left! Most left-wing activist, and I mean the hard-core here, have been NGOized. This process of NGOization, interrelated with Osloization, aims at washing out any revolutionary consciousness that the left is supposed to safeguard and replace it with false consciousness characterized by a new discourse about “empowerment of the disfranchised, projects, proposals, culture of peace, negotiations…etc”.

PA sets deadline for banning settlement goods

Posted in Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Palestinian Economy, Profiting from Zionism on July 21, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Ramallah – Ma’an – The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Economy in Ramallah announced 31 July as the deadline for merchants to clear their shops of settlement goods or face legal action.

The law prohibiting the sale and purchase of settlement goods was issued by President Mahmoud Abbas on 26 April 2010, with a penalty of two to five years in prison and a fine of no less than 10,000 Jordanian dinars or a combination of the two according to offense.

Al-Karamah fund director Omer Qabaha said in a statement that if merchants voluntarily submitted to the check before the deadline they would be awarded the Al-Karamah Medal to display in their shops.

The ministry-backed fund has organized the “no settlement goods” campaign and led shop-to-shop and house-to-house canvasing to distribute information and conduct voluntary checks ahead of the ban’s implementation.

On 1 August, “any merchant who violates [the ban] will be legally accountable,” Qabaha noted, explaining that trained inspectors will carry out tours of commercial centers and industrial facilities.

Those who “find it difficult to distinguish between settlement produce and other goods, or who have questions on the issue should call the toll-free number set up by the committee, 1 700 300 300,” Qabaha said, noting that it is confidential and operates 24 hours.

“We are committed to helping traders and merchants get rid of settlement goods and produce,” he said.

Boycott of colony goods must continue

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Palestinian Economy, Zionism on July 8, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Palestinians who work for colonist companies should also face repercussions

* Gulf News
* Published: 00:00 July 6, 2010

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is trying to find new ways to tighten an economic boycott of products manufactured in West Bank colonies. And at the same time, the PNA is also imposing stiff fines and prison sentences on those who trade in colony goods.

This strategy is a solid one, a small step to undermine the illegal occupiers who use their ill-gotten plants, facilities and warehouses to propagate Israeli goods, services and economics through subjugation of a people and their rightful lands.

The struggle against Israel is a just one. It must not be fought only in the spotlight of international media attention, official condemnation, diplomatic pressure from all right-minded nations but also in self defence through resistance when necessary.

It is all too easy to overlook the economic importance of the struggle against illegal occupation.

All colony goods need to be removed from the shelves of every shop, outlet and office in Palestine.

Just as Israel has applied a stranglehold embargo on the people of Gaza, it must also suffer the misery of having its goods shunned, its services isolated and its economic output vilified as being the result of political, racist and unjust policies which treat Palestinian people as non persons.

There is a difficult choice for PNA officials to make in the coming months. If they are serious and determined about imposing a full economic boycott on Israel, the Palestinians who work for colonist companies should face repercussions. Given the high levels of unemployment, that will be a difficult choice.

The struggle against occupation requires opposition at all levels. Ideally, there should be no collusion, economic or otherwise, with these usurpers.

But most Palestinians support the boycott: 75 per cent back the policy. A full 60 per cent support the ban on colony work. So be it.

PA wraps up store-to-store campaign

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Palestinian Economy, Zionism on July 7, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Ramallah – Ma’an – After visiting most of the shops in the West Bank, Palestinian Authority Minister of the Economy Hassan Abu Lubda said the “store-to-store” campaign promoting the boycott of settlement goods had come to an end.

A statement announced the end of the project, which saw hundreds of volunteers coordinated by government and bodies to go to shops – mostly food and mini-markets – with lists of goods produced in settlements and promoting the government-led boycott.

For shops not reached by the volunteers, Abu Lubda said, the PA set up a toll free number for merchants to call for information on what goods they were prohibited from stocking and selling. The minister said by calling 1 700 300 300, owners could learn how to properly dispose of the settlement goods and make sure they comply with the law passed banning them in April.

Abu Libda said merchants visited by the volunteers were cooperative and supported the boycott, and praised the volunteers for their commitment to the initiative.

The official said the campaign was ongoing, but had moved onto a new stage, in an effort to ensure shops were settlement-good free by 2011.

Palestinian boycott of Israeli settlement goods starts to bite

Posted in BDS Success, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Palestinian Economy on July 1, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Campaign to clear supermarket shelves of West Bank settlement wares forces Israeli factories to cut production

Harriet Sherwood in Ramallah, Tuesday 29 June 2010 11.08 BST

Israeli factories based in settlements on the West Bank have been forced to cut back production as a growing Palestinian boycott movement begins to take effect.

The boycott, endorsed by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, was given further momentum this week when a campaign to clear supermarket shelves of produce originating in settlements was rolled out in Ramallah.

“The objective is to ensure the Palestinian market is free of Israeli settlement produce by the end of this year,” the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, said at the launch of the Store to Store campaign at the Alameen supermarket.

A team of volunteers will inspect 66,000 stores across the West Bank in the coming weeks, awarding certificates and window stickers to those free of settlement produce.

After a period of grace, shopkeepers retaining such produce in their stores could be liable to a fine of more than £9,000 or up to five years in prison under a law already passed but not yet enforced by the Palestinian legislative council.

“This is the daily expression of rejection of the occupation,” Fayyad said. “It will help ensure that the Palestinian economy is self-sufficient. There will not be a store in Palestine which cannot carry our stickers.”

The pro-boycott campaigners are careful to draw a distinction between produce from West Bank settlements, which are illegal under international law, and produce originating from within Israel. The latter will continue to be sold in Palestinian shops.

The campaign has been attacked by Israeli politicians, businesses and commentators. “The Palestinians are opposing economic peace and are taking steps that in the end hurt themselves,” the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said last month.

The West Bank market is worth around $200m (£133m) a year to Israeli businesses. But some settlement factories sell about 30% of their output to the Palestinian market, and the boycott is already having an impact on them.

Seventeen factories in Mishor Adumim, a large industrial estate between East Jerusalem and Jericho, have reportedly closed since the boycott campaign began. Some settlement factories are reported to be considering moving back into Israel.

Others in the Barkan industrial zone, near the settlement of Ariel, have reduced production, according to David Ha’ivri of the Shomron regional council, a pro-settler organisation in the northern West Bank. “Many of the factories are seeking alternative markets,” he said.

A factory producing aluminium window frames, which used to sell 30% of its output to the Palestinian market, had cut the hours of its 160 employees rather than lay people off, he said.

More than half the 5,000-6,000 employees in the Barkan zone are Palestinian, employed under Israeli labour legislation and entitled to the Israeli minimum wage of around $1,000 a month – considerably more than the average wage in the West Bank economy.

“[The boycott] is an unwise act by the Palestinian Authority,” said Ha’ivri. “The damage caused will be felt by both sides. They’re cutting off the branch they’re sitting on.”

The Palestinian Authority has established a $50m fund to provide alternative employment and grants in an effort to both discourage Palestinians from working in the settlements and foster the West Bank economy.

According to the Manufacturers Association of Israel, some 22,000 Palestinians are employed by settlement businesses – in construction, agriculture, manufacturing and service industries.

It is holding an extraordinary meeting this week to ascertain the impact of the boycott and consider what action to take.

Dan Catarivas of the association said firms were more concerned about the withdrawal of Palestinian labour than the boycott of goods, although the impact was uneven.

“These Israeli firms will have to find new workers – either Israelis or foreigners. But at the end of the day the Israeli companies will find other options, and the Palestinian workers will be left without jobs.”

He said the Israeli government had offered incentives to firms to establish factories in the West Bank, and it was possible that some of them may now seek compensation for their losses.

The Palestinian Authority said it was pleased with the level of support for the boycott, put in a recent survey at around 85%. Fayyad said it was “empowering the people” to resist the Israeli occupation without resorting to violence. “People feel national pride that they can participate in this campaign,” a spokesman said.

The boycott is part of a wider attempt to foster non-violent resistance against Israel’s occupation, including largely peaceful demonstrations against the separation barrier.

Internationally, the boycott is gaining momentum. European Union guidelines urge supermarkets to clearly mark the origin of produce on labels to allow consumers to distinguish between Palestinian, Israeli and settlement produce.

The Alameen supermarket owner, Erekat Ribhi Shukar, insisted Palestinian produce was competitive in terms of quality and price with settlement goods. “We should support Palestinian producers to help our economy,” he said beneath a sign declaring “My conscience is clear – my store is clean of settlement produce”.

At the rear of the store, two young women shoppers examining a chiller cabinet containing Palestinian and Israeli dairy products but no settlement goods said they backed the campaign. “We want products that benefit our economy, not harm it,” said one.

Fayyad launches latest anti-settlement initiative

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Palestinian Economy, Zionism on July 1, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Published Monday 28/06/2010 (updated) 29/06/2010 15:29

Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Prime Minister Salam Fayyad launched the latest anti-settlement goods campaign aimed at clearing the Palestinian market of settlement produce on Monday.

The Shop to Shop campaign focused on clearing Palestinian supermarkets and stores of the produce, Agence France-Presse Press reported.

“This is a new campaign, and an important part of the efforts, both official and popular, to cleanse the market of all settlements goods by the end of the year,” Fayyad told reporters on a visit to a supermarket in Ramallah.

“This is also part of our efforts to bring about economic independence and self-sufficiency on the path to freedom and the end of the occupation,” he said, referring to his state and institution plan.

After searching the supermarket with a group of volunteers, mostly university students, and asking about the origin of different goods, Fayyad presented its owner with a certificate of compliance with the ban, AFP reported.

More than 66,000 shops across the West Bank will be inspected for settlement goods. The latest initiative follows the Door to Door campaign launched in May, which saw volunteers distribute pamphlets on blacklisted goods and advice on switching to Palestinian produce.

During its weekly cabinet meeting, the Palestinian Authority said 650 volunteers will participate in the new initiative, under the supervision of the Ministry of Economy’s district offices, calling on residents, traders and consumers “to take part in making the campaign a success.”

The Palestinian Authority announced the boycott in early 2010, which includes a ban on working in settlements and trading in settlement-made goods. Shortly after President Mahmoud Abbas approved a new law that would punish traders with up to five years in prison and hefty fines for selling settlement products.

According to PA Minister of National Economy Hassan Abu Libdeh, the number of Palestinians employed in settlements has declined by 25 percent since the boycott was declared, AFP reported.

The PA Ministry of Social Affairs announced in May that women working in settlements would be eligible to apply for alternative employment, in a bid to enforce the boycott.

However, the ban on working in settlements has sparked debate among Palestinian officials, with many describing the decision as hasty, given the rate of unemployment across the West Bank.

Internationally, the anti-settlement good boycott has gained ground, with an Italian grocery store announcing it would no longer stock the produce in its nation-wide stores.

5,000 stores undergo settlement goods inspection

Posted in Apartheid, Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions, Palestinian Economy, Zionism on July 1, 2010 by Marcy Newman

Ramallah – Ma’an – Volunteers for the Palestinian Authority’s latest settlement good boycott initiative visited over 5,000 supermarkets across the West Bank on Monday, as the Shop to Shop campaign entered its second day.

Campaign directer Omar Kabha said store owners responded to volunteers, who disseminate information on the settlement goods ban and inspect supermarkets. The initiative, Kabha said, aimed at clearing the Palestinian market of such goods and allowing the national economy to “flourish” as a result.

Issam Al-Qassem, campaign coordinator, said volunteers were spreading awareness among Palestinian traders on the effect settlement goods have on the Palestinian economy.

The latest campaign has seen 653 Palestinians volunteer, mostly college and university students.

The PA announced the boycott in early 2010, which includes a ban on working in settlements and trading in settlement-made goods. Shortly after President Mahmoud Abbas approved a new law that would punish traders with up to five years in prison and hefty fines for selling settlement products.

More than 66,000 shops across the West Bank will be inspected for settlement goods. The latest initiative follows the Door to Door campaign launched in May, which saw volunteers distribute pamphlets on blacklisted goods and advice on switching to Palestinian produce.

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