Aug 21, 2010

West Bank boycott campaign impacting settlement economy

Grassroots Palestinian boycott campaigns across the occupied West Bank to take Israeli settlement products off the shelves of local stores have made an impact on the Israeli settlement economy, to the unease of the Israeli government, noted the Israeli daily Haaretz this week ("Palestinians 'adamant about continuing boycott on settlement goods'," 8 August 2010).

From the tightly-packed communities in refugee camps, to the sprawling urban areas in major cities, to the rural countryside, Palestinians have galvanized around campaigns to promote locally-made products and locally-harvested food instead of a myriad of items made in illegal settlement colonies on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), for its part, has produced pamphlets listing Israeli settlement-made products and delivered them to thousands of homes across the West Bank, urging Palestinians to buy Palestinian products and warning that trading of settlement products risks legal prosecution. But grassroots, local community initiatives have been working independent of the PA for years as activists have organized to educate and support business owners in making responsible choices in purchasing and selling merchandise.

Haaretz reports that the Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor has asked the PA to cancel the boycott, citing supposed violations of international trade rules and feigning concern for Palestinian laborers who work in the settlements.

International trade laws do not apply to consumer boycotts, however, and the Israeli settlements themselves are entirely illegal under international law, including Articles 46 and 55 of the Hague Convention; Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 465. The illegality of Israel's settlements was reaffirmed in the 2004 ruling of the International Court of Justice at the Hague ("Israeli settlements fact sheet,"Palestine Monitor, 15 March 2010).

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