PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas continues his diplomatic war against Israel with a call to boycott Israeli goods. PM Benjamin Netanyahu accuses him of Nazi-like conduct.
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas continued with his diplomatic warfare against the Jewish state by urging African countries to boycott products manufactured in Judea and Samaria. His call for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is similar to a motion promoted by the European Union (EU).
Addressing the 25th African Union (AU) assembly in the Johannesburg, South Africa, on Sunday, Abbas alleged that the sale of products originating in Judea and Samaria are a breach of international law.
“We must boycott the settlements, which were established on Arab land, contrary to international law and resolutions,” Abbas stated, according to the Palestinian Wafa news agency.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Abbas’s statements by noting that the Holocaust was caused by a similar trend of tarnishing the Jews.
“Yesterday, Palestinian President Abbas called for the labeling and boycotting of Israeli products. This is definitely not the language of peace. We will continue to resist boycotts, defamation, de-legitimization. We’ll do that internationally, we’ll do that locally if we need to, and our hand will remain stretched out for peace for any partner that wants to have peace with us. And I hope, Mr. Minister, we can discuss how to advance a genuine peace and stop the slandering of Israel,“ Netanyahu told visiting Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna in Jerusalem.
“I say that to the foreign minister of a free proud and independent Poland, on whose soil the defamation of the Jewish people happened when the Nazis controlled Europe. The attacks on the Jews were always preceded by the slander of the Jews. What was done to the Jewish people then is being done to the Jewish state now. We won’t accommodate that. In those days we could do nothing. Today we can speak our mind, hold our ground. We’re going to do both,” declared Netanyahu.
The EU’s Counter-Peace Initiative
The European Union (EU) has moved forward with its initiative to label goods that originate from Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, thus singling them out for boycotting.
An EU official said earlier this month that the 28-nation bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, told European foreign ministers that work is underway and that a set of guidelines will be “finalized in the near future.”
The EU began work on labeling guidelines in 2012 but appears to have decided to revive that effort following the formation of Israel’s democratically elected government.
The EU has taken a tough stance against Israel, and several countries on the Continent have already recognized the non-existing state of Palestine.
Mogherini received a letter last week from a group of former European political leaders, calling for an “urgent reassessment” of EU policy on diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The letter insisted that Israel “be held to account for its actions in the ‘occupied territories’” and that the EU take an even harsher stance against Israel.
Regardless of what the EU’s executive arm decides to do with regard to the labeling, its member states remain divided on the issue, said Pierre Vimont, a former top EU official and a senior associate at Carnegie Europe, a Brussels-based think tank.
“Preparation has been going now on for two years, and we are more than ready to go ahead,” he said in a recent interview. “But we have been avoiding this difficult moment because we know member states are split, and it could be a very ugly discussion among us. At the end of the day, this could be the tricky issue.”
Israeli officials reject the European labeling plan, saying it would amount to a boycott and help discourage Abbas from returning to direct negotiations.
“Why should he talk? He can get by without talking. He can get by with an international community that blames Israel for not having talks,” Netanyahu told the Herzliya Conference last week.
Boycott Hurts Palestinians, Says Human Rights Activist
“I’m opposed to the boycott because it only ends up harming the Palestinians themselves,” prominent Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid explained in an interview with Ynet. “Take, for example, the SodaStream plant in Mishor Adumim [in Judea and Samaria] that is now moving some of its operations to Be’er Sheva [in southern Israel]. I’ve met with Palestinians who worked at the factory and were fired because of the move. They told me they were earning an average of NIS 5,000 a month there, and that today they are being offered salaries of just NIS 1,400 in the PA.
“People there are deep in debt because they have taken on long-term commitments based on the understanding that their work at the plant would continue, but reality has slapped them in the face because of the pressure created by the BDS movement,” he continued, arguing that the pro-boycott activists are not concerned with the welfare of the Palestinian people. “Today, they are running between the courts and the bailiff offices and is anyone taking any notice of them? Do you think the boycott movement cares about them at all?”
In a Times of Israel blog, he said that the BDS activists “are engaged in a campaign to delegitimize Israeli businesses that operate in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] regardless of the fact that those businesses typically provide good employment opportunities to Palestinians. ‘Pro-Palestinian’ activists see the loss of jobs by Palestinians as a reasonable price to pay for the greater goal of weakening Israel.
“The ‘pro-Palestinian’ activists have therefore entirely completed the switch from supposedly being pro-Palestinian to being fully anti-Palestinian,” Eid stated. “While they claim to defend the interests of Palestinians, they in fact thrive on the deaths and unemployment of Palestinians.
By: Max Gelber, United with Israel
AP contributed to this report.
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