Saturday, January 11, 2014
Israeli settlements in Jordan Valley suffer from BDS
A Thai worker sits in a back of a truck load with flowers in the fields of the West Bank Jordan Valley Jewish settlement of Petsael. (AP).
NETIV HAGDUD, West Bank (AP) — An international campaign to boycott Israeli settlement products has rapidly turned from a distant nuisance into a harsh economic reality for Israeli farmers in the West Bank's Jordan Valley.
The export-driven income of growers in the valley's 21 settlements dropped by more than 14 percent, or $29 million, last year, largely because Western European supermarket chains, particularly those in Britain and Scandinavia, are increasingly shunning the area's peppers, dates, grapes and fresh herbs, settlers say.
"The damage is enormous," said David Elhayani, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, which represents about 7,000 settlers. "In effect, today, we are almost not selling to the (Western) European market anymore.
Israel has played down the impact of the campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions launched by Palestinian activists in 2005 to pressure Israel to withdraw from occupied lands.
"By and large, it's unpleasant background noise," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, arguing that its overall effects have been negligible.
However, the lament of the Jordan Valley famers comes against the backdrop of a growing debate in Israel about the aftermath of a possible failure of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's latest mediating mission. Kerry wants to forge agreement on the outlines of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal despite major disagreements between the sides.
Israeli supporters of a land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians have warned that Israel could face a snowballing boycott — of the magnitude that brought down apartheid in South Africa — if it rebuffs proposals Kerry is to present in coming weeks.
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