Palestinians boycott settlement goods, 2009-2011

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Timing
Time Period:  
December
2009
to
May
2011
Location and Goals
Country: 
Palestine
Location Description: 
Palestinian territory in Israel
Goals: 
To eliminate the sales of settlement goods in Palestinian vendors, and to weaken settlement economies.
 

In December 2009, Palestinians began a boycott of goods coming out of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and other disputed territory. There was already a law established by the Palestinian Authority against buying these goods, effective in 2005, but most local salespeople and consumers did not observe the law because most complex non-food products sold in Palestine were produced in Israel or in the settlements. Likewise, the high-producing settlements depended on Palestinian consumers for economic survival. Israelis labeled this movement “economic terrorism”, although the methods were nonviolent. The goal of the campaign was indeed to lay economic siege to settlement communities by eliminating all settlement goods before the beginning of 2011.

The boycott began in December 2009 on the local level, one town at a time. Palestinian activists would go door to door informing their neighbors about the potential power the boycott could have to remove the settlements. As the momentum spread between towns, people began labeling their houses with stickers that read, “This house is free of settlement goods”. Local consumers put immense pressure on Palestinian groceries and convenience stores to stop buying settlement goods, and most clerks complied enthusiastically. The Palestinians held huge bonfires in their towns to burn settlement goods, burning a total of US$1 million worth of goods over the course of the campaign.

The boycott led to difficulty in Palestinian communities as many goods became unavailable to the public. The Israeli Labor Federation, Histradut, pointed out that the economic consequences would be grave for Palestinians not only because of the unavailability of goods, but also because of the fact that many Palestinians were employed in industry and manufacturing in the settlements. Similarly, many Palestinian artisans depended on Israeli ports and delivery systems to access the raw materials they needed.

Nonetheless, by February 2010 most the entire Palestinian public was supporting the boycott, including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who even went so far as to participate in one of the massive bonfires. The Palestinian Authority officially began support of the campaign in the third week of February, when Ziad Toame was appointed the official responsible for managing the boycott. The campaign was supported by the Palestinian Authority’s president Mahmoud Abbas and even Hamas, a historically violent political party fighting for Palestinian liberation. According to the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy, in one year, settlement trades with Palestine were worth about US $200 million.

By 16 May 2010, seventeen businesses dependent on settlement-produced goods had completely shut down. On 28 June 2010, Salam Fayyad launched an official campaign in which Palestinian volunteers visited 66,000 outlets in disputed territory and requested their participation in settlement-free trade. The volunteers distributed stickers. Supermarkets were required to be settlement-free within six months or face a fine or even imprisonment. This had a serious economic impact on both sides involved. While the continuation of the boycott did not force the settlements to shut down, it did inspire and fortify anti-settlement political campaigns in the following years. Settlement goods are still not sold or purchased openly in Palestinian territory, but they are still marketed abroad.

Research Notes
Sources: 
Karmi, Omar. "Palestinians up the stakes in boycott of settler goods". The National. Ramallah, 29 June 2010.

Waked, Ali. "Fayyad helps burn settlement products". YNet News. 05 January 2010.

Prusher, Ilene. "Palestinian Authority steps up boycott of goods made in Israeli settlements in West Bank". Christian Science Monitor. 25 February 2010.

Sherwood, Harriet. "Palestinian boycott of Israeli settlement goods starts to bite". The Guardian. Ramallah, 29 June 2010.

Zacharia, Janine. "Palestinians turn to boycott of Israel in West Bank". Washington Post. 16 May 2010.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Lydia Bailey, 07/04/2012