Palestinian Authority steps up boycott of goods made in Israeli settlements in West Bank
Toame also charges that settler food products are "dumped" on the Palestinian market when they're nearing expiration date, and sold at rock-bottom prices. "If they weren't dumping so many products on the Palestinian economy, it'd be much better," he says.
Settlement-based manufacturers and farmers took an additional hit on Thursday when a European Union court ruled that settlement goods do not qualify for duty-free import into the EU, unlike products made or grown in Israel proper. Thursday's ruling, the first of its kind, made it clear that only goods made within Israel's pre-1967 borders would qualify for duty-free status. The EU has had several run-ins with Israel over this issue, and Israel agreed in 2005 to include a code on "Made in Israel" products. The importer could then use the code to check where precisely the manufacturer or grower is based and purchase accordingly.
A campaign with teeth?
Not stopping at simply raising public awareness, the PA is also giving the campaign teeth. Toame's office has drafted a law, signed by Mr. Fayyad and awaiting the signature of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, that would make it illegal for Palestinians to sell settlement products, on pain of heavy fines and jail time.
The idea, Toame says, is to go after big distributors, and not consumers. But many small businesses say that is easier said than done. Not all products are easily replaceable in terms of quality; for others, there isn't enough Palestinian production to meet demand.
"I just found out that the dates I have been selling come from the Jordan valley settlements," says Said Mohammad, who runs an open-air vegetable market in the old city area of Ramallah. "I will not buy them again, even though they are in great demand – and they are delicious. But the settlers stole our land, and this economic boycott is an extremely important route to fighting back."