Boycott Israeli Products, Calls The Palestine PM
18 December, 2012
Salaam Fayyad, premier of Palestine, has called on Palestinians to boycott Israeli products in protest against Israel's withholding of funds to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.
Haaretz, The Associated Press, Reuters and Ma'an News Agency reported:
Salaam Fayyad said the boycott should apply to all Israeli products, not just those made in Israeli settlements.
Israel is holding $100 million in taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinians, based on an interim peace accord. It cut off the funds to protest the Palestinians' successful bid last month at the UN. Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official, said Israel was guilty of "piracy and theft" by refusing to hand over the funds.
The UN victory for the Palestinians was a diplomatic setback for the United States and Israel, which were joined by only a handful of countries in voting against upgrading the Palestinians' observer status at the UN to "non-member state" from "entity".
Hours after the UN vote, Israel said it was authorizing 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and expediting planning work for thousands more dwellings in a geographically sensitive area close to Jerusalem, which critics said would kill off Palestinian hopes of a viable state.
Fayyad told reporters on December 16, 2012 the call for a boycott is a protest against the Israeli measure.
The boycott call is the latest step in an economic battle between Palestinians and Israelis spurred by the up-gradation of Palestinians' status at the UN.
The Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank uses the money to pay salaries to its civil servants and security forces. Israel said it is using the money to pay down huge debts Fayyad's government owes to Israeli firms, including its electricity company and that money will now be deducted from the tax transfers.
Fayyad admitted a Palestinian boycott of Israeli goods would violate an interim peace agreement with Israel, in which the two sides pledged economic cooperation, but he justified the move because "the Israeli government is working against this agreement" by withholding tax funds.
This is the first time Fayyad has called for a boycott of all Israeli goods, not just ones made in West Bank settlements.
Israel collects about $100 million a month in duties on behalf of the authority.
Israel has previously frozen payments to the body during times of heightened security and diplomatic tensions, provoking strong international criticism, such as when the U.N. cultural body UNESCO granted the Palestinians full membership a year ago.
Earlier this month, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and finance minister Yuval Steinitz decided to confiscate the tax revenues that Israel collected for the Palestinian Authority during the month of November.
On November 11, Steinitz warned: "If the Palestinians continue to advance their unilateral move they should not expect bilateral cooperation. We will not collect their taxes for them and we will not transfer their tax revenues."
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