Businesses joining first Palestinian-Israeli mall face boycott
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Businesses joining first Palestinian-Israeli mall face boycott

Palestinian Society for Consumer Protection threatens to blacklist stores in Rami Levy’s West Bank complex meant to foster coexistence

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Rami Levy at the construction site for his new mall in Atarot, Jerusalem, June 21, 2016. ( Luke tress/Times of Israel)
Rami Levy at the construction site for his new mall in Atarot, Jerusalem, June 21, 2016. ( Luke tress/Times of Israel)

The leader of an influential Palestinian organization threatened on Saturday to cause financial harm to any Palestinian businesses joining the first Israeli-Palestinian mall currently under construction in the northeastern Jerusalem.

The Times of Israel reported last week that Israeli developer Rami Levy is building a shopping center a two-minute drive from the West Bank crossing that leads to Ramallah. Levy said he is seeking out Palestinian business owners to rent space in the shopping center, and hopes to attract customers from the big West Bank city.

Responding to the report of Levy’s project, Saleh Haniyeh, head of the Palestinian Society for Consumer Protection, said his group, in partnership with a number of institutions, is “ready to reveal the names of any partners of ‘the settler’ businessman Rami Levy, put them on the blacklist and boycott their commercial interests.”

Haniyeh said his group would also pressure the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce to freeze Levy’s Palestinian partners’ memberships, according to a report in the Palestinian news agency Ma’an.

The head of the Palestinian organization reiterated his group’s complete boycott of any goods and services stemming from Israeli settlements.

When reached by The Times of Israel, Levy declined to comment on the boycott effort.

Saleh Haniyeh, head of the Palestinian Society for Consumer Protection. (courtesy: YouTube)
Saleh Haniyeh, head of the Palestinian Society for Consumer Protection. (courtesy: YouTube)

Levy earlier said the idea for the mall he is building in the industrial zone of Atarot, beyond the Green Line north of Jerusalem, came from his existing shopping centers and supermarkets in the West Bank, which have become unexpected points of friendly interaction between Jews and Arabs looking for jobs and the cheapest prices.

If his mall succeeds, Levy said, “it can lead to an understanding that we can do everything together.”

Palestinian protesters hold up flags and a sign reading "boycott occupation and its products" during a protest at a Rami Levy supermarket in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit, October 24, 2012 (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Palestinian protesters hold up flags and a sign reading “boycott occupation and its products” during a protest at a Rami Levy supermarket in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit, October 24, 2012 (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Levy’s project has already faced challenges due to political pressure. At one point, Levy had reeled one of the biggest Palestinian wholesalers of electronics, but after the deal was made, the potential client got cold feet over political fears.

The Israeli businessman, who became famous for wild sales that included selling milk cheaper than water and a kilo of chicken for 10 cents, was confident prices in his mall would be lower than those in Ramallah.

Responding to this, Haniyeh said, “We will not sell our positions and principles for a number of shekels.”

But many Palestinians interviewed by The Times of Israel at the Ramallah-Jewish Qalandiya crossing said they would have no problem taking advantage of Levy’s cheaper prices in the new mall. Only a few expressed opposition to shopping there for political reasons.

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