World Bulletin / News Desk
Years and years of campaigning for the boycott of Israeli goods produced by Jewish settlers in occupied parts of the West Bank has finally grown from being a small-scale protest to a major blow to the Israeli economy.
Last year, boycotts on products like dates and grapes grown in the occupied Jordan Valley caused a $29 million loss for illegal Jewish settlers in the region. As reported in the Washington Post, income from exports dropped 14%, mainly due to big supermarket chains in Europe deciding to boycott the products.
David Elhayani, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, told the Washington Post, “In effect, today, we are almost not selling to the (Western) European market anymore.”
Zvi Avner, head of the agriculture committee in the Jordan Valley, said that sales of peppers and grapes to Western Europe have dropped by about 50% and fresh herbs by up to 40%.
Israeli educational institutions have already been boycotted by a top union of academics in the US, with a Dutch pension giant PGGM also deciding to boycott Israeli banks last week. Many feel that a trend is slowly starting to develop in the West against Israel, similar to that which brought down the apartheid regime in South Africa.
In 2009, the UK gradually started labeling or completely boycotting settler products. Together with Scandinavian countries, the UK has made the 550,000 odd illegal Jewish settlers in the West Bank very nervous. Michael Deas, a Britain-based coordinator for the international boycott movement, told the Washington Post that supermarkets in the UK were concerned for their reputation if they continued to sell settler products. Marks & Spencer, Morrisons and Waitrose are among many British firms to stop selling settler goods in recent years. Germany’s Kaiser Supermarket has also made a moral decision against selling settler products.
Negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority are being brokered by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been successful in foreseeing the release of some Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails as part of a lasting peace deal. However, in the protests against Israel’s continuing illegal settlement building program, the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by Jewish settlers and Israeli security forces, as well as the annexation of the Jordan Valley by Israel, just as many Palestinians have also been arrested – including 450 children as cited in a study for 2013.
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