PA: Everyone Has a Right to Boycott Israel

PA says it recognizes the right of civil society groups to boycott Israeli products, but says it is focusing on “settlements.”

Elad Benari, Canada ,

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority’s leadership said Friday it recognizes the right of civil society groups to boycott Israeli products, but stressed its own embargo is limited to products  from “settlements.”

"The Palestine Liberation Organization and the State of Palestine is not opposed to the Palestinian civil society-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel," said a statement received by the AFP news agency.

"Palestinian officials and leaders respect and uphold the right of Palestinian civil society to initiate and lead local and global BDS campaigns against Israel as a means to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people."

It also urged all countries to end "all trade and relations with companies from or involved in the illegal Israeli settlements."

The clarification comes just days after PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said that the entity did not support boycotts of Israel.

Speaking to South African reporters during his visit to Nelson Mandela’s memorial, Abbas said, “No, we do not support the boycott of Israel. But we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements. Because the settlements are in our territories. It is illegal.”

Abbas's comments elicited harsh condemnation from leaders of the BDS movement. The extremist Electronic Intifada web site quoted BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti as saying that Abbas does not speak for the “Palestinian people. There is no Palestinian political party, trade union, NGO network or mass organization that does not strongly support BDS.”

This week, the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to endorse a boycott of Israel, claiming it was “in solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom, and it aspires to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians.”

The head of the ASA later admitted to the New York Times that many nations, including many of Israel’s neighbors, have human rights records that are worse than Israel’s but said that “one has to start somewhere.”

The European Union (EU) recently published guidelines which boycott Israeli companies which operate in Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

These guidelines caused tension between the EU and Israel, which threatened in response to shun the EU “Horizons 2020” research program unless a compromise is found over the boycotting guidelines.

The sides later reached a compromise on wording for Israel's participation in the "Horizon 2020" project.

In the compromise the EU will note in the agreement that it does not recognize Israeli activities over the 1949 Armistice line and is not prevented from its new boycott guidelines, while Israel will attach a section emphasizing that it does not see in the EU's stance an obligating legal precedent.

In October, Abbas urged European and other foreign companies not to deal with businesses based in Israeli communities in what he considers “occupied Palestinian territory” - meaning eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.

On Thursday, the outgoing EU envoy to the Middle East said there is growing support among the 28 member states for labeling products from Judea and Samaria.

The envoy, Andreas Reinicke, said that the number of EU states in favor of labeling has grown from two to 14 since he assumed his post nearly two years ago.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)