Tom King, BA Politics
Israel has incurred losses of up to $8 billion as a result of the campaign to boycott illegal settlements, according to Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative movement.
The claim comes as the European Union issued demands for Israel to label poultry, dairy and meat products to clearly mark those which originate from the occupied areas beyond the 1967 Green Line. If Israel fails to comply the EU has threatened to prevent goods with inadequate labelling from entering member states.
It is believed that 80 Israeli dairy factories are at risk of closure as a result of EU import restrictions, which have cost the industry as much as $30 million. Israeli finance minister Yair Lapid has said boycotts have resulted in the loss of $5.8 billion to the Israeli economy and have cost 9,800 jobs.
EU officials have, however, been keen to emphasise that the policy “in no way amounts to an economic boycott of Israel” and is simply part of implementing a boycott of goods from illegal settlements, which the EU does not consider to be part of Israel. Despite this European pressure, Israel announced the annexation of a further 1,000 acres of Palestinian land near Bethlehem last month. The move was condemned by the British government, which said settlements on the West Bank are “illegal under international law, present an obstacle to peace, and take us further away from a two-state solution”.
Calls from Palestinian civil society to step up action against Israel have grown stronger following the summer assault on the Gaza Strip, which left 2,143 dead. ‘Boycott, divestment and sanctions’ (BDS) campaigners are seeking to emulate the successful tactics used by anti-Apartheid activists to undermine the South African regime. Over the summer, the National Union of Students’ Executive Council voted to support the BDS campaign and to take reasonable steps to end its dealings with Israeli companies.
Israel and Palestinian representatives agreed a ceasefire last month to bring an end to recent violence in a deal that is also supposed to lead to the easing of the Israeli blockade on Gaza.