Ministers Call for Sanctions Against Boycotters
According to Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein, if Israeli companies participating in building the Palestinian Authority city of Rawabi continue to boycott products manufactured in Judea, Samaria, and east Jerusalem, the Israeli government will have no choice but to vote on a bill that would see the end of Israeli support towards the building of the city.
Edelstein, who spoke to Arutz Sheva’s daily Hebrew journal on Monday, referred to the 20 Israeli firms which recently signed contracts in which they agree not to use products manufactured by Israeli companies in Judea, Samaria, northern/southern/eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
Edelstein called these contracts dangerous and said that they are “a strategic weapon in the hands of the enemy.” He added that in the coming days he will meet with the heads of the Yesha and Golan Heights councils, as well as with representatives of the Jerusalem Municipality. The series of meetings is aimed at finding ways of dealing with these boycotts.
Edelstein added that companies who agree to such boycotts must be made to feel as though they are separated and isolated, something which he believes “would make it difficult for those companies to sign the contracts.” He estimated that the companies “did not act out of an ideological motivation but rather merely from an economic one, and as such it must be made clear to them that they by signing the contracts they will be hurt economically.”
Edelstein also addressed recent comments made by Rawabi builder Bashar Al-Masri, who had claimed that 100 Israeli companies wish to take part in the enterprise despite the fact that they will be required to join the boycott. Edelstein called the comments puzzling and added that if they were true, then “why are all the companies trying to keep their names a secret? Apparently they realize there is a problem.”
He addressed the possibility that Israel will stop assistance to Rawabi as long as the boycott contracts continue and said that such government action may well be taken in order to exert some pressure. “We were coming with clean hands but the other side thinks differently. We will approach our colleagues in the government as well as the IDF about these boycotts.”
Edelstein believes that such requests will be submitted in the coming days to Prime Minister Netanyahu but refused to say an exact date.
Meanwhile, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom, who also spoke to Arutz Sheva’s daily Hebrew journal, said that he does not support the idea of economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority in terms of the Rawabi assistance. Shalom said that he believes that the pressure should be exerted on the Israeli companies who sign the boycott contracts.
Shalom said that by signing the boycott contracts, the companies are joining a delegitimization campaign against Israel, something which he called a “scandal.” He added that in the United States, for example, such companies would be put on trial, and added that while he does not think that such drastic steps should be taken, “we should definitely not only condemn them but act against them, and impose sanctions on them.”
Shalom said that the source of the boycott against Israel is none other than PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who wishes to appear to the Arab public as more extreme and thus take over from PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Despite this fact, Shalom believes that there is no reason in stopping what little economic cooperation exists between Israel and the PA in this case.
“There is no connection between stopping the boycott and stopping a joint project in the Gilboa which has interests for both parties,” said Shalom. “The struggle has to be conducted in another way, by exposing the faces of those who stand behind the boycott. The surrender of the companies [to the boycott] is disgraceful and has no place, and those companies must run into clear opposition from law enforcement agencies in Israel, and I will work towards making sure that this indeed happens.”
Shalom emphasized that Israel’s assistance to the PA in terms of Rawabi is focused entirely on helping the PA’s request to expropriate Israeli land for the access road to the city. He said that the PA was required by the Israeli government to file a formal request, but decided not to do so, so that things shall not be construed as recognition of Israel's sovereignty on this land. Shalom noted that Israel has no part in the planning and the establishment of the city.