Ali Waked
May 23, 2010 - 12:00am,7340,L-3893081,00.html

Palestinian Social Affairs Minister Majida al-Masri said Sunday that her ministry has begun preparations to absorb 6,000 female Palestinian workers currently employed in the settlements as the ban on Israeli settlement produce progresses.

Al-Masri invited the workers to fill out forms in branches of the Social Affairs Ministry in order to find new jobs inside Palestinian Authority territory.

In an interview with the Ma'an news agency the minister said that "the national Palestinian trend is to continue boycotting settlement products and jobs. This is an extremely important issue in the delicate stage our people are at."

Al-Masri promised that the boycott would not hurt the Palestinians and would even improve their condition.

"The government and public, private and civilian sectors are making efforts to create a substantial national alternative for those who work in settlements. It will be reflected in an improvement of the national Palestinian economy and will help us move forward towards independence."

She further noted that despite the fact that there are not many Palestinian female workers employed in settlements, "This phenomenon must come to an end as soon as possible."

Last week PA authorities distributed a booklet containing a detailed list and photos of 500 products the residents are instructed to boycott. The campaign has also found its way into legislation with a new law.

"Anyone trading in settlement products, assisting in their trade or importing them will be jailed for two to five years in prison and will pay a fine of 10,000 Jordanian dinar (NIS 55,000)," the law stipulates.

Those who will be found guilty of transporting settlement goods face a 3-6 month prison sentence and a 2000 Jordanian dinar (NIS 11,000) fine.

'Part of national struggle'

The Palestinians view the boycott as part of a non-violent popular struggle. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has joined the campaign and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has even burned several Israeli products some months ago.

Fayyad stressed that the popular struggle is a central part of an effort for the establishment of a state.

Meanwhile, the boycott continues to provoke angry responses in Israel. The Land of Israel Lobby has called on Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz to close air and sea ports to Palestinian goods.

"We are convinced that such a step, which is legal and legitimate, would cause Palestinian Authority leaders to think twice about the terrorist economic policy they have adopted," a statement issued by the lobby and Knesset members Zeev Elkin and Arieh Eldad noted.


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