The head of the Israel Manufacturer’s Association has urged his European counterparts not to boycott Israeli businesses, warning that such a move could hit Palestinians as well, in a letter seen Monday.
The open letter to European industry leaders comes a week before Israel is due to end exports of poultry and dairy produce from its West Bank settlements to the EU.
“I am asking for your support and assistance to convince the business community in your country not to use economic means to penalize their fellow Israeli manufacturers and exporters,” Zvi Oren wrote in the letter obtained by AFP Monday.
“Such actions can only affect our region in a negative way by loss of jobs and growth on both sides,” the letter said.
On August 17 Israeli and European officials said the Jewish state would halt poultry and dairy exports to the EU from its settlements in the West Bank on September 1.
In 2013 the EU issued guidelines banning European institutions from dealing with Israeli entities operating in settlements.
And there have been growing calls for an economic, academic and cultural boycott of Israel over alleged human rights violations, including in Gaza, where a 49-day conflict has killed more than 2,100 Palestinians. Israel, which maintains that up to 1,000 of the dead were fighters, launched Operation Protective Edge to stem rocket fire at its citizens and locate and destroy attack tunnels dug under the border.
Some 22,500 Palestinians are employed in West Bank settlements, 6,000 of whom work in Israeli-owned businesses, according to the association’s sources.
The chief of the Manufacturers Association of Israel’s international section, Dan Catarivas, told AFP it was “clear that if businesses [in the West Bank] were affected by the boycott, so would be their Palestinian employees.”
Catarivas said the wider boycott campaign would have an “insignificant” effect on Israel’s economy, given that settlements accounted for at most $300 million of its $45 billion of annual exports.
Some European funds have already been withdrawn from Israeli financial institutions with branches in the West Bank.