The Palestinian Authority is launching a door-to-door campaign Tuesday to convince Arabs to boycott Jewish-grown produce and Jewish goods from Judea and Samaria, but some observers say it may scuttle the chances for peace.
The PA began the boycott several months ago, and the campaign, encouraged by its European Union benefactors, has escalated into an order that PA Arabs also stop working for Jewish “settlers.” Local Arab leaders and 3,000 volunteers will begin knocking on doors of Arabs in Judea and Samaria at 10 a.m. Tuesday and pressure them to sign a pledge not to purchase anything that is produced by their Jewish neighbors.
The price of the boycott already has been the closure of several Jewish businesses and the loss of hard to find employment for Arabs, but the cost may be much higher – peace.
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told the Washington Post, "We are definitely committed to a path of non-violent resistance and defiance in the face of the settlement enterprise," but even Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, perhaps the most leftist member of the Likud party, condemned the boycott.
"Are they for partnership or struggle?" he said at a news conference Monday. Meridor added that the PA is trying “to raise unemployment by stopping them from working."
Unemployment often brings violence, which is the doctrine urged by Hamas, the bitter rival of the Fatah party led by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Besides contradicting the Oslo Accords, which in effect no longer exist concerning commitments by the PA who never lived up to them, several leaders and diplomats have expressed concern that the boycott will act as a clear sign to Israel that the PA is not interested in peaceful co-existence.
The boycott is spreading and is likely to alienate more liberal-leaning Israelis. Buoyed by the international Israeli boycott movement, protesters have arrived at an H&M store located in a Jerusalem mall in a part of the city that the PA claims as its future capital.
"All of these efforts are seen by the Israelis as an effort by the Palestinians to isolate Israel," an unidentified Western diplomat told the Washington Post. "One has to question whether this will be effective or whether it will push the Israeli government into a more reluctant mood."
On the Arab side, PA workers employed by Jews and Arab wholesalers of Jewish products, fear the worst economically.
Israel's economy, on the other hand, is strong and businessmen, although concerned at the present time, will find non Arab workers and outlets for their products if they must.
A new law signed by Abbas provides for up to two years in prison and a $14,000 fine for any Arab selling Jewish goods from Judea and Samaria. Evidence seems to point to this being an additional form of protest rather than it taking the place of rocks, knives and continuous violence and incitement.