Palestinian response to boycott law: makes Quartet irrelevant

July 13, 2011
Sarah Benton

Palestinians denounce ‘boycott bill

Roee Nahmias, YNetnews

PLO official Yasser Abd Rabbo says if bill placing sanctions on those who boycott Israel passes Knesset vote, Quartet announcement regarding renewal of negotiations is as good as void

PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Yasser Abd Rabbo commented on the “boycott bill” Monday warning that if it passes second and third readings at the Knesset plenum “the content of an impending Quartet announcement regarding the possible renewal of negotiations will become irrelevant.”

Speaking to Ynet, Abd Rabbo, a senior Palestinian negotiator, noted that “the bill will turn settlements into sacred places and whoever comes near them will be fined. What kind of negotiations and solutions can we talk about then?

“One might as well tear apart the Quartet’s announcement if the bill is passed,” he added.

It is estimated that the Quartet declaration will support United States President Barack Obama’s speech, and push for negotiations based on 1967 lines.

The Quartet members – US, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations – are scheduled to meet in Washington Monday to discuss the Palestinian statehood bid.

‘Leadership failure’

The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Shaul Mofaz accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of placing responsibility on military echelons ahead of September.

“You can’t say the Quartet will come up with a solution and then we will think of a response,” Mofaz said during a committee meeting attended by Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

“The political echelon is mistaken if it thinks the right solution to the September events is a military one. We are facing political, security and perhaps economic chaos. There is still time to put something on the table, but we lack the necessary leadership to promote the subject,” he said.

Mofaz noted that the prime minister is the one carrying full and direct responsibility. “It is a leadership failure, which resembles that of 1973, and we are heading there with our eyes wide shut.”

Knesset Member Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), who initiated the bill, announced Monday morning that the “boycott bill” will be voted on by the Knesset plenum on Monday despite previous reports suggesting it will be postponed.

It was reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded that the Knesset vote which was set to be put through its second and third reading, be postponed to avoid presenting Israel in a negative light as the Quartet gears to meet for a crucial discussion over the intention of the Palestinian Authority to seek UN recognition for a Palestinian state.

But Coalition elements claimed that Netanyahu had told MK Elkin, who initiated the bill, that there was no problem in putting it up for a vote. “There is no change. Chances are the vote will be held and a final decision will be made in the morning,” Elkin said. The PM’s Office said in response: “The issue is being checked by all relevant parties.”

The bill, which is backed by the Cabinet, states that any boycott against Israel or any group located within its territory, including Judea and Samaria, will be labeled a civil offense and its initiators will be subject to litigation


Leadership of Palestinian boycott campaign responds to new law
Palestinian BDS National Committee


The Israeli parliament (Knesset) last night passed a new law criminalizing support for the Palestinian civil society campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, penalizing Israeli persons and organizations active in the campaign, or indeed in any other partial boycott of Israel or any of its institutions. The repressive legislation also bars companies that refuse to to deal with Israel’s illegal colonies built on occupied Palestinian land from receiving government contracts.

Hind Awwad, coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian civil society coalition comprising all major political parties, trade unions, NGOs and mass organsations, said:

“Israel is once again taking draconian measures to criminalize civil resistance to its system of apartheid, colonialism and occupation over the Palestinian people. But so long as Israel continues its illegal siege of the Gaza Strip, brutal occupation, denial of Palestinian refugee rights and system of instituionalized discrimination against Palestinians, repressive acts such as these will only offer further evidence of the undemocratic and oppressive nature of Israeli political life and motivate even more people of conscience to join our global BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality.”

“This new legislation, which violates international law, is testament to the success of the rapidly growing global BDS movement and a realisation within political elites inside Israel that the state is becoming a world pariah in the way that South Africa once was.”

Prof. Gabi Baramki, former head of Birzeit University and currently a Steering Committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), reacted to the new law saying: “The boycott bill is but a continuation of the Knesset’s decades-old pivotal role in legislating Israeli apartheid, colonialism, and other forms of oppression of the Palestinian people.”

Ms. Awwad also stated: “We stand in solidarity with all principled Israeli citizens and organizations who are the primary target of this law, and whomay be fined and even imprisoned for exercising their fundamental right to speak out and act non-violently in order to bring their state into compliance with international law..”


1. The Palestinian civil society campaign for BDS calls for applying broad boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) initiatives against Israel, similar to those applied to South Africa during the apartheid era, until Israel meets its obligations under international law by respecting the basic right of the Palestinian people to self determination by ending its occupation and colonization of the 1967 territory, ending racial discrimination against Palestinians inside Israel, and granting Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned right to return.

2. Key BDS movement successes include the divestment campaign against French multinational Veolia, which has cost the company billions of dollars in lost contracts due to its ongoing involvement in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail and the decision taken by the Norwegian government to exclude Israeli companies involved in the construction of illegal settlements and the wall from its national pension investment fund. Earlier this year, the University of Johannesburg severed links with Ben Gurion University because of its complicity in human rights violations. Numerous artists have heeded the Palestinian cultural boycott call against Israel, including Roger Waters, Jello Biafra, the Pixies and Faithless. Carmel Agrexco, a partially state owned agricultural export company targeted by the BDS movement, recently announced record losses.

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