The marking of items to inform people that they were produced or manufactured in the settlements of Judea and Samaria is not unheard of in European countries; this can be seen as an attempt to deter customers from purchasing these products. Two months ago a large proportion of the European Parliament agreed that such products should indeed be branded as settlement produce.
The campaign to boycott the settlements is a tragic mistake; it will not only cause damage for Israelis but even more so for Palestinians and will in fact deter any progress in attaining and maintaining peace. I believe that Europe must stop all efforts in the attempts and campaigns to boycott Israel, these acts are not only hypocritical but also extremely harmful. It is time for Europe to cooperate with Israel and to truly help improve the lives of Palestinians. It is time to stop funding anti-Israeli organizations that harm the relationship between Israelis and Arabs and also to stop funding the corrupt Palestinian National Authority, including Abbas himself, a man that is in fact a millionaire by European standards and lives a life of luxury and great expense. According to Palestinian sources the monthly salary of Abbas is around one million Euros; this is 110x more than the average salary of an MP in the European Union. Throughout this article I will explore the many ways in which a boycott of Israel will cause harm to the Palestinian economy, businesses and to Palestinian workers.
In a recent report from the PCBS (Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics) it is shown that 110,300 people from the West Bank currently work in Israel and the settlements. In Judea and Samaria there are ten large industrial zones, in these industrial zones over 21 thousand Palestinians are currently employed, these are record numbers. The Israeli labor laws also cover Palestinians; these include the rights to pensions, time off due to ill health and also for vacations. This gives many Palestinians the opportunity to have a good standard of living and also a variety of career options. The salaries of the Palestinians who work in settlements is 400% greater than that of Palestinians that work in the West Bank.
The reality is that Palestinians living in the West Bank struggle to find work, with unemployment increasing and low wages being a constant problem it is hard to make a good living. In stark contrast to the maximum 1000nis that can be earned as monthly pay while working in the West Bank it is possible for those working in the settlements to earn over 4000nis per month. Despite the better standard of living and higher wages for those working in the settlements, the Palestinian Authority have made many efforts to reduce the employment of Palestinians in these areas and to stop them from relying on Israel for income. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics; the labor force in the West Bank includes approximately 810,000 Palestinians. The amount of employment in the West bank amounts to just 45.6% this can be compared to the much higher percentage of employment in the settlements that currently stands at 77%. It is very easy to come to a conclusion that the Palestinian economy is not strong, despite a significant increase in the standard of living in the West Bank since the second intifada (2000-2005). The anti-Israeli intervention from Europe has caused more harm than good, the money that has been invested in campaigns against Israel and the European money that has been pumped into organizations and groups that attempt to delegitimize the state and cause harm could have been used to improve the Palestinians’ standard of living and give their economy a much needed boost.
The European money that has been invested in anti-Israel incitement and propaganda has become an increasing problem and not a solution and evidently causes more issues in the never ending conflict. This specific European funding is like oxygen for anti-Israel organizations and allows such pointless hate groups to grow, spread and achieve nothing. The claims and accusations from the various anti-Israeli organizations are more often than not based on zero to no evidence, usually false and occasionally just plain old anti-Semitism. Many of these organizations are working to destroy Israel and do not even acknowledge the right of Israel to exist. The more radical anti-Israel organizations are cut off from reality and have even gone as far as to accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing and genocide. One of the more extreme and absurd lies spread by such organizations is that Israeli Zionist militants are responsible for the destruction of hundreds of historic churches and mosques since the year the country was established in 1948, of course there is no actual solid evidence to support such claims.
A report that was published by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) described all of the Israeli victims in the recent terror attacks as “settlers” and shamelessly portrayed the perpetrators as the victims, an example of which is the infamous image of 13 year old Ahmed Saleh Mansara. Mansara was photographed bleeding and wounded after being hit by a car when running from the Israeli police moments after he brutally stabbed a child. The photograph of this young terrorist was used to create a poster boy for Palestinians propaganda machine and to portray Israel as a brutal child killing state, the report even stated that Mansara was actually on route to buying a pigeon when he was brutally set upon by Israeli forces. There are no pigeon stores in the location of the attack. The report from the PCHR did nothing but present Israel as the criminal and the oppressor, ironically the PCHR is an organization from Gaza that is funded by various European governments and also the EU. This is evidence that European money is funding pure incitement that with just a little research and common sense can be seen as nothing more than lies.
Another example of where this European money goes is the Palestinian Bar Association that provided a heinous terrorist with an honors degree. This terrorist was a law student that brutally murdered two civilians in Jerusalem, and seriously wounded a mother and baby during the beginning of the “knife intifada”. This not only justifies Palestinians terrorism but it also encourages and protects it. The Palestinians Bar Association receives millions of Euros from The EU and was once even gifted 1.5 million euros to “increase the professionalism of lawyers in Palestine”.
These examples have occurred within the recent weeks and are just a few of many. I have not mentioned the financing of anti-Semitic originations such as BDS as it is impossible to explain the extent of European involvement in such things in just one article. There is a huge list of anti-Israel organizations that receive funding from European governments and The EU. It is time for Europe to cease all campaigns; organizations and the funding of anti-Israel incitement in all forms, these attempts to delegitimize Israel achieve nothing and create more problems and many tragic consequences. Boycotting the settlements will cause dire problems for the Palestinians and the Palestinian economy which is unstable as it is. The Palestinian economy is unable to provide jobs and a source of income for the 21,000 Palestinians that currently work in the settlements and coexist with Jews. If European countries really cared about Palestinians they should be investing money in improving the collapsing economy, education system and basic standard of living of the people instead of funding organizations that promote lies and incitement. Europe should know exactly where such funds are going and investigate fully who receives them and what is going to happen with the millions of Euros that are being spent. Europe should demand proof that this money is being spent to improve the welfare of citizens, build factories and create jobs rather than funding anti-Semitic books, articles and boycotts. Without this funding from Europe the Palestinians would be more limited to sourcing such propaganda and certainly less blood would have been spilled over the recent weeks. Instead of boycotting the only place in which Palestinians are able to attain a good quality of life and higher wages it should be priority for European countries and The EU to provide a western standard of education in Palestinian schools, build factories and businesses and in general truly care and pay attention to the escalating problems rather than throw copious amounts of money at nothing.
Israel and many of the Palestinian people have one common interest: a Palestinian democracy. This means that the Palestinian Authority would govern with the ability to conduct a legitimate and fair regime that can maintain a strong economy with no corruption. This economy should be independent and should not rely on Israel, Europe and the Arab countries. Palestine needs a regime that maintains individual liberty, laws that protect human rights and also encourage equality and education – maybe then the Middle East will look different.