Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged African countries Sunday to boycott goods produced by Israeli-owned companies in the West Bank, calling for the same kind of labeling program currently being mulled by Europe.
Speaking at the 25th African Union assembly in the South African city of Johannesburg, Abbas called on state leaders to require the labeling of settlement products as a means of deterring consumers from purchasing such items.
The Palestinian leader added that the sale of Israeli goods produced beyond the Green Line violated international legal standards.
“We must boycott the settlements which were established on Arab land, contrary to international law and resolutions,” Abbas said, according to the official Palestinian Wafa news agency.
The European Union is expected to soon begin rolling out rules that require the labeling of goods from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, diplomats said recently. Experts have warned that the program, which Jerusalem has railed against, could snowball into a larger boycott of Israel.
During a previous visit to South Africa in 2013, Abbas stunned reporters and Palestinian activists alike when he stated that the Palestinians do not support a general boycott of Israel, though he did advocate boycotting Israeli products made in the West Bank, on territory that the Palestinians envision as part of their future state.
“No, we do not support the boycott of Israel,” the Palestinian leader had told a group of South African reporters. “But we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements. Because the settlements are in our territories. It is illegal.”
“But we do not ask anyone to boycott Israel itself,” he reiterated. “We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel.”
The PA president’s comments at the time conflicted “with the Palestinian national consensus that has strongly supported BDS against Israel since 2005,” one of the founders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, Omar Barghouti, told the Electronic Intifada website at the time.
The BDS movement calls for blanket boycotts of Israel, not just Israeli settlements, with the stated goal of ending the Israeli occupation of Arab lands and granting a “right of return” to all Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants.