Palestinian Authority Boycotts Top Israeli Food Companies

The PA announced that the boycott is intended to punish Israel for a number of “violations,” including freezing the transfer of tax revenues, as well as continued settlement activity.

Palestinian demonstrators carry posters demanding Palestinian merchants to boycott Israeli settlement products in 2011. (Photo by Issam Rimawi/FLASH90)

Palestinian demonstrators carry posters demanding merchants boycott Israeli “settlement” products in 2011. (Photo by Issam Rimawi/FLASH90)

The Palestinian Authority has instituted a boycott of six Israeli food and beverage companies: Strauss Group, Tnuva, Osem, Elite, Prigat and Jafora-Tabori. Retailers are also being urged to remove Israeli products not covered by the boycott from their shelves. The boycott was issued in response to the Israeli government’s decision to suspend the transfer of tax revenue after a series of unilateral Palestinian moves to circumvent the peace process.

The announcement came at a press conference with Fatah Central Committee member Mahmoud Al-Aloul. As of February 11, Palestinian stores and businesses will have two weeks to clear out their existing stock of these companies’ products. Inspectors will be dispatched to ensure that the boycott is being observed.

“Palestinian customs officials will supervise the implementation of the decision in areas where the Israeli goods are delivered,” said Ibrahim Al-Jazarah, head of the Palestinian Customs Authority, to Palestinian news agency Ma’an.

Al-Aloul indicated that the boycott was intended to punish Israel for a number of “violations,” including freezing the transfer of tax revenues to the PA in December and January, as well as continued settlement activity. The revenues were suspended in response to the PA asking the International Criminal Court to try Israel for war crimes. The ICC has not decided whether to accept the case. The move followed an unsuccessful petition to the UN to demand that Israel withdraw behind the Green Line and allow the creation of a Palestinian state by 2017.

Although the boycott only applies to the six aforementioned companies, Al-Aloul called on Palestinians to eschew all Israeli products. “Boycotting Israeli products should be a clear and consistent strategy for the Palestinians,” he stated.

The PA has repeatedly banned Israeli goods, but with little success due to both the lack of alternatives and the public perception that Israeli products are of better quality than their Palestinian equivalents. In 2010, the PA banned the sale of settlement-produced goods, and those involved in their trade were threatened with 2-5 years of jail time plus a fine. Nonetheless, the law was not enforced, as the demand for these goods exceeded the PA’s capacity to confiscate and destroy them.  It is estimated that Israel sells 5 billion NIS of goods in the West Bank annually, of which more than 1 billion NIS are food products.

By: Atara Beck, World Israel News staff