Mohammed Mar’i
Arab News (Analysis)
September 11, 2010 - 12:00am

RAMALLAH: The Palestinian federation of Laborers on Saturday launched an international campaign to boycott the products of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories.

Shaher Sa'ad, Secretary-General of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU), told Arab News that his federation lunched the international campaign to boycott the products of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories.

Sa'ad added that the federation launched the campaign in coordination with the international unions and federations to "end the marketing of settlements products in international markets."

He added that the federation also contacted international peace activists and members of solidarity movements with Palestinian people to "gather as much as support for the initiative."

The official added the initiative came in "response to the crimes Jewish occupiers commit against the Palestinian people."

On May, the Palestinian Authority (PA) launched its home-to-home campaign to convince Palestinians to boycott products made at Jewish settlements and gave the workers an ultimatum to find a working alternative.

The PA said it has established a national "empowerment" fund to help create other jobs for the Palestinians who now work in the settlements, but that remains a long-term proposition. For now, many Palestinian workers see no choice but to earn a living however they can.

The campaign against settlements products is backed by the law signed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The new law states that anyone who deals in products produced in settlements will be imprisoned for two to five years and pay a fine of up to $14,000. Those who import settlement products into the Palestinian territories are threatened with three to six years, fines of up to $3,000, and the confiscation of their licenses and vehicles.

According to the law, the Palestinian merchants caught selling settlement products may have their license revoked and vehicle impounded.

The PA hopes that the boycott will encourage the international community to adopt a stronger stance against settlements while helping end the Palestinian economy's dependence on Israel.

In addition to forcing Israeli factories in West Bank settlements to shut down or relocate inside Israel, the campaign is deterring other Israeli businesses from moving to the West Bank industrial zones, which were originally set up to be closer to Palestinian laborers, many of whom are denied permits to work inside Israel.

Palestinian inspectors from the National Economy Ministry are raiding supermarkets in West Bank to enforce the law that prohibits the sale of products manufactured in the Jewish settlements.

According to official statistics, the Palestinian markets annually consume $200 million of products made in the West Bank and Jerusalem settlements.

Israeli media reported this month that around 17 Israeli factories have shut down since the PA's move.

On May, the Palestinian Minister of Social Affairs Majedah Al-Masri said that the PA began the practical steps to absorb 6,000 Palestinians working in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Al-Masri said that the PA will create jobs for 6,000 of 25,000 Palestinians who now work in the settlements. She called on Palestinian workers, and mainly female ones, to fill a form her ministry prepared for this purpose.


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