Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Sunday called for a total boycott of Israeli products. Fayyad called on PA Arabs to open a “financial intifada” on Israel and boycott all Israeli goods, and have as little to do with Israeli economically as possible.
Fayyad said he was responding to Israeli threats not to transfer tax funds collected by Israel on behalf of the PA. Last week, outgoing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the transfer of monies to the PA might not take place until next March or even later, because the PA owes Israel NIS 1.6 billion (about $400 million).
“The Palestinians can forget about getting even one cent in the coming four months, and in four months' time we will decide how to proceed,” Lieberman told Yisrael Beyteynu activists at a meeting last week. Money that was set to be transferred to the PA has been withheld, with part of it going to defray a huge $200 million debt to the Israel Electric Company. The PA also owes large sums to the Israel Water Authority.
The PA has long been a serial non-payer of large bills owed to Israel, but in the past Israel has covered those debts, in the interest of encouraging and protecting the PA government headed by Mahmoud Abbas. However, Israel has sharply changed its attitude to Abbas and PA in the wake of the Authority's request to the UN Security Council for recognition as a state. The UN several weeks ago upgraded the PA's UN delegation to that of a “non-voting member state.”
Fayyad said that Israel's actions were tantamount to “theft and piracy,” and demanded that Israel remit the funds immediately. There was no comment from the Israeli government on either Fayyad's demand or his call to boycott all Israeli products.
In the past, the PA has called for the boycott of products and goods from Judea and Samaria; this was the first time the PA called for a boycott of all Israeli goods, as well as a “disengagement” from the Israeli economy.