- Title: WEST BANK: Palestinians attempt to shut down settler trade
- Date: 20th January 2010
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PALESTINIAN PRIME MINSTER SALAM FAYYAD SAYING: "This is an expression, of our rejection, as Palestinians, to the settlements in all its forms. For all the right reasons, we know the destructive affect the settlement project has on our Palestinian national aspirations: The ending of the occupation and to establish the Palestinian state on the entire land occupied." VARIOUS OF PRODUCTS BURNING SMOKE BILLOWING FAYYAD TOSSES IN A BOX OF SETTLEMENT PRODUCTS INTO THE FIRE VARIOUS OF FIRE BURNING WIDE OF FIRE BURNING - FIRE TRUCK NEAR BY RAMALLAH, WEST BANK (JANUARY 19, 2010) (REUTERS) MANARA SQUARE DOWNTOWN RAMALLAH BANNER READING: 'GIVE OUR PRODUCTS THE PRIORITY' CLOSE OF YIELD SIGN ON BANNER READING: 'OUR PRODUCT' RAMALLAH, WEST BANK (JANUARY 18, 2010) (REUTERS) STICKER READING: 'OUR PRODUCT' STUCK ON LOCAL PRODUCTS AT SUPERMARKET STICKER READING: 'OUR PRODUCT - SLOW DOWN AND GIVE PRIORITY' VARIOUS OF PALESTINIAN PRODUCTS WITH STICKER ON THEM BANNER READING: 'OUR FOODS - THE PALESTINIAN FOODS EXHIBITION' WIDE OF BANNER, CARS DRIVING
- Embargoed: 4th February 2010 12:00
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA8XGQE9V76OYXBHZE2G5GO1MO
- Story Text: The Palestinian government launches a campaign to counter the sale of Israeli settlement products in Palestinian West Bank cities.
A campaign to counter the sale of Israeli settlement products in the West Bank is the target of a new Palestinian government campaign.
"We are moving on with the campaign to clear our markets of settlement products. We are also moving on with the implementation of the Paris agreement and to the reception of your products into our markets, from Israel, even though it is our right to treat you as you treat us. We advise you to take out your businesses, your investments and industries form the settlements, in order to get a piece of the local (Palestinian) market," Palestinian Minister of Economics, Hassan Abu Libdeh said during a speech in Ramallah, addressing Israeli producers.
Currently the Paris agreement between the Palestinian government and Israel allows the Israelis to sell their products in the Palestinian markets, but excludes settlement items.
The Israelis however, do not sell Palestinian products in Israeli markets.
Abu Ali Ibraheem, along with two other officers from the Economic Ministry took to the streets of the West Bank to explain the campaign to shop workers. The initiative not only targets settlement products, but aims to combat the sale of expired products on Palestinian shelves.
"Any product that you suspect is a settlement product or coming form the settlements, do not stock. Another point is that from now until March 1st, every item needs to have a clear price tag on it," Abu Ali Ibraheem explained to a shop owner in Ramallah.
The Palestinian campaign targets over 50 products. Customs officers can seize merchandise already on the Palestinian shop shelves immediately if they can prove it is settler-made.
Settler firms use various tricks to bypass inspection measures and deceive end-users, Nofal said. Boxes of dates being shipped to Turkey bore labels showing Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock, to make them appear Islamic and Palestinian-grown.
The campaign does not include products from Israel proper, which Palestinians rely on. Campaigns by some local groups to boycott all trade with Israel has yielded little success.
Palestinian officials estimate that Israeli-run companies in the settlements sell goods worth 500 million U.S. dollars per year in the West Bank market, from construction materials to nuts.
Cutting off this trade will undermine settler viability in the Israeli-occupied territories that Palestinians want for a state, the campaigners believe.
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad threw a box of settler products on a bonfire this week as Palestinians pushed a campaign to "cleanse" their markets of goods made by Israelis living in the West Bank.
Fayyad said if Palestinians wanted to persuade the European Union to ban trade with the settlements -- considered illegal under international law -- they would have to do it themselves first.
Fayyad's government has confiscated merchandise worth over 2 million U.S. dollars since November.
"This is an expression, of our rejection, as Palestinians, to the settlements in all its forms. For all the right reasons, we know the destructive affect the settlement project has on our Palestinian national aspirations: The ending of the occupation and to establish the Palestinian state on the entire land occupied, "Fayyad told reporters after contributing to the fire.
If Palestinians are allowed to carry on buying settler goods, they will solidify the economic activity of settlements and settlers, he said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to resume stalled peace talks with Israel until it freezes West Bank settlements. In November, Israel ordered a partial, 10-month freeze but is still building some new homes on occupied land.
Under an EU-Israel Association Agreement, settlement goods from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are not entitled to preferential tariff treatment that Israeli products enjoy and are subject to the payment of duties.
In 2005, the EU and Israel negotiated a "technical arrangement" under which customs authorities of member states may identify settlement exports to the EU. This is implemented homogeneously in the whole EU territory, an EU official said.
Britain was criticised by Israel in December for advising supermarkets to label produce from Jewish settlements clearly, to distinguish it from goods produced by Palestinians.
However, Palestinians believe a lot of settler produce is slipping through the net, benefiting from preferential trade agreements intended strictly for Israeli exports.
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