Recent reports of a major British supermarket chain tightening its boycott on products coming from Israeli companies and businesses beyond the Green Line has again raised the question about the effectiveness of such boycotts. The question however should not be about how effective they are, but rather who is affected by them. The answer is that those most harmed by boycotts on Israeli products imported from Judea and Samaria are first and foremost the Palestinians themselves.
There are fourteen industrial centers dispersed throughout Judea and Samaria, which include some eight hundred factories and businesses. Seventeen thousand employees work at these centers, eleven thousand of them are Palestinians. According to data presented by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, the employees earn two to three times more than the average pay earned by the general Palestinian population, and receive as prescribed by Israeli law, full social benefits. Based on the Arab familial structure in a region that plays host to a number of large families, these workers may support up to 100,000 people who are dependent on them.
A secondary source of livelihood has developed around these centers of industry in the form of the provision of transportation for the employees, haulage of product and materials and services and equipment suppliers, so in truth an even larger segment of the local population makes a living as a result of Israeli entrepreneurship in this region.
The Palestinian Authority has recently encountered a severe financial crisis, which intensifies the Palestinian need for these places of work provided at the settlements.
Firas Raad, representative of The Quartet has stated as fact that economical cooperation is good for both sides. Israel provides a large and strong economy, financial and technical knowledge, transit capabilities and contacts with outer markets, and the Palestinians offer a quality and comparably cheap work force.
Therefore, boycotting Israeli products from the settlements essentially harms Palestinian livelihood. If these factories are shut down, many Israeli workers will be able to find other sources of employment, as opposed to the Palestinians, many of which will remain jobless. Such an example occurred recently when a factory from the Barkan industrial park was moved within the Green Line. The Jewish workers were able to keep their jobs, as opposed to the ninety Arab workers from the nearby villages who lost their employment because they did not meet the requirements for proper work permits.
Similarly, following the Israeli unilateral disengagement from Gaza, which resulted in the destruction of the many fields, green houses and factories that provided a source of employment for the local population, many Arabs, who were former employees, were left with no source of income.
These facts stand in stark contrast to the many claims of usury and disinheritance of the Palestinians that are levelled against the Settlers.