More than one Palestinian has spoken out against the latest EU boycott against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, claiming that it harms Palestinian interests. A senior level Palestinian Authority official who preferred to remain anonymous told Israel Hayom, “It’s not just Israeli companies that are going to be hit economically; it’s also going to be disastrous economically and socially for the Palestinian community.” The official added that the EU move will freeze joint projects between the two communities and force Israelis to stop hiring Palestinians.
Approximately 22,500 Palestinians are employed by Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria supporting not only themselves, but also countless members of their extended families. As it stands, unemployment for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria is around 20 percent, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Should demand for products from Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria decrease due to EU labeling, the unemployment rate among Palestinians is expected to rise. Observers say this will affect young Palestinians under the age of 26 most intensely, who are permitted to work in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria yet are denied work visas to Israel proper due to security considerations.
Some Palestinians believe that adversely affecting the Palestinian standard of living will undermine the peace process, which was recently reignited by US Secretary of State John Kerry. Palestinians working in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria reportedly earn NIS 164 per day, a salary 88.8 percent higher than the average daily wage throughout the rest of Judea and Samaria, enabling countless Palestinians to enjoy a better standard of living.
The EU policy is expected to “affect everyone, whether Jew or Palestinian,” Sammer Darawsha, who works as part of a joint Israeli-Palestinian agricultural project located near a Jewish community in Judea and Samaria, told Israel Hayom. “If they take away our livelihoods and food, exactly what kind of peace will be here?”
The Palestinian income from working in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria makes up a critical part of the Palestinian economy, comprising nearly 9 percent of the total PA budget, amounting to $3.1 billion. Additionally, Palestinians working in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are exposed to Israeli technologies and meet Israeli citizens, fostering the type of friendships that many observers say are needed to build a peaceful future between these two peoples.
For these reasons, Mudar Zahran, a prominent Palestinian pro-peace and pro-democracy activist from Jordan, is also staunchly against the new EU boycott against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. “The EU is not helping the Palestinians or peace in the region when it chooses to boycott settlement products or any Israeli products,” says Zahran. He notes, “Little did they know that the only people making the most of the economic growth of those settlements are the Palestinians themselves.”
“The majority of the workers at those settlements are Palestinians making European pay standards just a bus ride away from their villages,” Zahran added. Zahran recommends that the EU ”consider a different approach to trying to achieve peace in the Middle Easter other than utilizing flawed outdated concepts.”
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About the Author: Rachel Avraham is a news editor and political analyst for Jerusalem Online News, the English language internet edition of Israel's Channel 2 News. She completed her masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University. The subject of her MA thesis was: "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media."
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