Business Owners: BDS to Harm Palestinians Most

Thousands of Palestinians will be left jobless due to 'settlement labeling' bill. Meretz: business owners' protest is a 'terrorist act.'

Tova Dvorin ,

Workers at SodaStream plant
Workers at SodaStream plant
Flash 90

If Israel labels products from Judea and Samaria, the potential for boycott will hurt Palestinian Arab workers the most, business owners revealed Tuesday. 

Fourteen business owners of establishments over 1949 Armistice lines have worded a strong letter to Meretz chairman Zehava Galon over the proposal, which was submitted to the Knesset in May. 

If the businesses close, they urge, thousands of Palestinian Arabs would bear the financial consequences. 

"In dozens of factories in Judea-Samaria, there are more than 20,000 Palestinian workers who make a living with dignity," the letter states, according to Army Radio. "You will bear responsibility for the fact that they will remain without a livelihood." 

One of the signatories is Shuki Marhiv, the owner of a factory in Barkan (near Ariel - ed.).

"Who would be hurt the most from the initiative would be the Palestinians who work in these factories - who make up, in many cases, some 90% of the workforce," Marhiv stated Tuesday morning. "A Palestinian worker earns between 1,500 and 2,000 shekels per month in work in the Palestinian Authority. Israeli factory workers are paid between 5,000 and 8,000 a month, so they [Palestinian workers earning Israeli salaries - ed.] are the engine powering the Palestinian economy - and [the bill] will come back to them like a boomerang."

Most of the factory owners predict that the bill will not pass into law, but they warn of precedents being set by presenting such bills in the first place - whether in Israel or in Europe. 

"Such proposals harm the Palestinian workers," they say.

The Samaria Residents' Council also signed the letter.

Meretz has responded to the publication by claiming that protecting Palestinians is a "terrorist act." 

"The initiative of the Samaria Residents and business owners who signed the letter is a terrorist act which holds Palestinian workers hostage," the party claimed. "Our party's bill seeks to allow the Israeli consumer access to what European consumers know - whether the products they see are created in the territories of sovereign Israel or the Occupied Territories." 

"This information is an integral part of the considerations that consumers should be able to weigh in order to decide whether to buy a particular product, so the party does not intend to withdraw the bill."